It appears 2017 will mark a big shake-up in Saskatchewan’s health care delivery.
A three-member panel that has spent the last few months hearing from patients, unions and administrators is recommending the province moves to a single provincial health authority, getting rid of the 12 that currently exist.
The panel suggests the massive administrative change isn’t just about saving money. It said it’s also about streamlining and integrating the services being provided so the patient experience isn’t ruined by delays, inefficiencies and a system that doesn’t appear cohesive.
It will mean changes, not just to how a patient receives care but to where they get care from – all levels of services, doctor, lab work, diagnostics even an ambulance ride.
The aim is to coordinate care so the patient experience is seamless and team-based.
“This change represents a consolidation of administration, not a centralization of services,” said Health Minister Jim Reiter in a news release. “Our government remains committed to providing high-quality health services in every part of the province. Our goal is better co-ordination between the health services provided in different areas of the province.”
While the province will move to one health body it will have of a regional advisory network to ensure the unique health needs of cities, rural and northern areas are met.
It isn’t clear right now what disruption this change will bring in the short term, how much it will cost or what job losses will occur.
The work has already begun within the Ministry of Health looking at what legislative, governance, financial and management changes are needed.
“We recognize the changes we are recommending are significant,” panel member Dr. Dennis Kendel said in a news release. “The advisory panel encourages the provincial government and senior leaders within the health system to take the time required to ensure a smooth transition.”
The change will begin immediately and is anticipated to be complete by the end of the year.