12/28/2011 02:26 EST | Updated 02/27/2012 05:12 EST

Ken Hughes: Alberta Health Services Board Chairman Resigns

EDMONTON - The head of the board that runs Alberta's health-care system announced Wednesday he is stepping down to pursue other interests.

But Ken Hughes was playing coy about whether those interests might include a run at the Tory nomination in the Calgary riding currently represented by Finance Minister Ron Leipert, who has announced he will not run for re-election.

"I have been active in public service throughout much of my adult life," said Hughes. "I'm a business person who focused on business primarily for the last couple of decades.

"So, you know, if there's anything new in the public domain, I'll certainly be happy to share that with you in the new year."

Hughes is close to Premier Alison Redford and served on her transition team after she won the Tory leadership race.

A provincial election is expected in the spring.

Hughes said he initially signed up for a three-year term with AHS, and ended up staying a little longer.

He said he includes among his successes a five-year health funding deal negotiated with the province, and the money they saved by merging the regional health authorities.

However, Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith said his legacy includes long wait lists, an inefficient bureaucracy, higher costs and physician bullying.

As for the rumours Hughes might run for office, she said Alberta needs real change, not recycled material from 40 years of Tory rule.

Hughes will be temporarily replaced by vice-chair Catherine Roozen.

(The Canadian Press, CHED)