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Patient safety

Alberta mandates council to focus on quality healthcare

EDMONTON Quality healthcare and improved patient safety are the focus of an expanded mandate for the Health Services Utilization and Outcomes Commission. The commission will be renamed the Health Quality Council of Alberta to reflect its new role.

The council will report directly to Albertans about patient safety and satisfaction, and the quality and performance of Alberta's healthcare system. It will continue to provide input to the minister about system-wide quality improvements.

A 2003 survey conducted by the Health Care Utilization and Outcomes Commission found that three out of 10 Albertans are concerned about patient safety. Fourteen percent reported they or a family member have experienced a medical mistake.

"About 2.5 million Albertans seek at least one health service a year," said Alberta Health and Wellness Minister Gary Mar. "Patients in the province need to have confidence in the quality of care they receive."
The council will liaise with the newly formed National Health Council and work closely with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. It will also work with other provincial bodies that address quality and patient safety such as the Health Facilities Review Committee, Protection of Persons in Care and other key stakeholders like regional health authorities and the Alberta Cancer Board.

"Alberta takes its responsibility for healthcare seriously," said Minister Mar. "We recognize the value of working with our national colleagues but unlike the established national bodies our council will be accountable to Albertans who use and pay for our health system."

Dr. Lorne Tyrrell, dean of medicine and dentistry at the University of Alberta, will chair the new council. He joins the current members of the Health Services Utilization and Outcomes Commission who come from the health professions, academia, the community and government. The ethics commissioner reviewed the membership to ensure no conflict of interest exists.

"Quality brings together all aspects of healthcare from research to education to service delivery," said Dr. Tyrrell. "That is an ambitious scope, but Albertans and their health system have the skills, ability and attitude to achieve it. The council will be pleased to be a partner in helping to improve the quality of care Albertans receive."

Bonnie Laing, former MLA for Calgary-Bow has been named vice-chair. Laing is the former chair of the Health Utilization and Outcomes Commission. Under her leadership, the commission released its Health Report to Albertans in July 2003 and the Survey of Albertans in September 2003. The reports contained integral information about selected population health indicators, effectiveness of the healthcare system, overall health of Albertans and their satisfaction with the system.

"All council members bring extensive expertise with them to the table," said Mar. "We are fortunate to have Dr. Tyrrell and Bonnie Laing to head this talented group. Their knowledge and experience will provide the leadership needed to help the council succeed in its new mandate."

"I am pleased to see the commission taking on an expanded mandate that will play a key role in ensuring quality of care and improving patient safety within Alberta's health care system," said Laing. "I look forward to serving as vice-chair and helping the council to achieve its goals."

The $3 million annual budget previously allocated to the Health Services Utilization and Outcomes Commission will be transferred to the new Health Quality Council of Alberta.

Membership and MandateMandate

The Health Quality Council of Alberta will report directly to Albertans on the quality and performance of health services. The council will identify best practices and review and monitor health care quality, including access, cost effectiveness, efficiency, and patient safety.

Dr. Lorne Tyrrell - Chair

Dr. Tyrrell is the dean of medicine and dentistry at the University of Alberta who is internationally recognized for his discovery of a treatment to cure hepatitis B. Prior to becoming dean, he was the chair of the department of medical microbiology and infectious diseases. In 1998, he was awarded both a Prix Galien Canada for Research and the U of A's J. Gordin Kaplin Award for Excellence in Research. He is also the 1999 recipient of the U of A's University Cup for teaching and research excellence.

Bonnie Laing - Vice-Chair

Mrs. Laing, former M.L.A. for Calgary-Bow, served three terms in the Alberta legislature after a 26 year career in education. She was chair of the former Health Services Utilization and Outcomes Commission, is a past chair of the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, and served as co-chair on the government's Special Task Force on Province-Wide Health Services.
Mrs. Laing also chaired the province's 1997 Health System Funding Review Committee.

Former members of the Health Services Utilization and Outcomes Commission:

John Cowell, CEO (ex-officio, non-voting)
Dr. Chris Eagle - Clinical Health
Dr. Peter Norton - Clinical Health
Dr. Michael Lee - Health Academic
Doug Griffiths, M.L.A. Wainwright - Government
Doug Tupper - Government (retired)
Elaine Mills - Public
Linda Steinman - Public
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