A transition team was assembled on January 10 to start the initial process of amalgamating the twelve health regions into one provincial health authority.
"There will be a lot of work going into planning the transition into the new authority and ensuring that [it will] be a smooth one. Work by staff of the Ministry of Health is now underway, including creating the legislative and regulatory framework for the new authority, identifying the competencies needed for the new single Board of Directors, and ensuring the focus throughout the process continues to be on the patient," expressed Minister Jim Reiter.
Of course, having one health authority instead of managing twelve health regions introduces cost savings in the Ministry, which was outlined by Reiter.
"We believe that by transitioning to a single health authority, there is potential to save between $10-20 million dollars annually by 2018-19. We anticipate that there will be back office saving that include information technology, procurement, supply chain, human resources management and a number of other areas."
He also confirmed saving in two areas that they will see within the same time frame:
- $700,000 in annual savings by consolidating the twelve existing RHA Boards into one board of directors.
- $9 million dollars in annual saving in information technology
"Every dollar we save can certainly be put into good use in the healthcare system."
"Alberta did this a number of years ago, and while I believe it's working fairly well now, they had some difficult growing pains. Part of that is the fact that they rushed the transition. The Panel made a point in the report to take the necessary time to do it right. We expect to have the new board by next fall, but even after that, there will be some transition period to got through," added Reiter.
Much of the changes that will be taking effect is towards the administration and senior levels in the hierarchy. However, the question that is up in the air is whether the front line staff will be affected.
"This is about management restructuring and governance. It's not about significant changes in front line care. We think that it will flow through and once we work as one unit, it will help that initiative."
Moreover, he alluded to a separate budget process that may or may not affect front line workers, but he didn't go into detail.