Revelations today that Alberta Health Services (AHS) must spend tens of millions of dollars on renovating their ageing and unsafe laundry facilities has caused Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann to ask AHS to revisit contracting private industry for the service.
“I am not aware of any evidence that public funding and management of hospital laundry services improves access, quality or cost-effectiveness of health care,” Swann, himself a physician, said. “Private laundry service is not a threat to public healthcare – it can reduce, through healthy market competition, our overall healthcare costs.”
Last year Health Minister Hoffman intervened directly and overruled AHS’ decision to contract private industry for laundry service. The minister has frequently claimed her actions are intended to protect jobs. However, AHS is now claiming any new facilities will be automated and require 50% fewer staff.
“This ministerial intervention was based on ideology, rather than a solid business case,” Swann continued. “We now know this plan is not going to save jobs or money. The millions of dollars required for AHS to do its own laundry could be better spent on patient care, salaries and critical infrastructure.”
“The NDP needs to overcome its ideological posturing and govern in the best interests of all Albertans,” stated Swann. “In this case it means giving AHS the independence to make good decisions and allowing the private sector to be a partner in reducing the overall cost of healthcare.”