03/20/2015 12:31 EDT | Updated 05/19/2015 05:59 EDT

Surgeon says Alberta health minister's numbers off on cancelled surgeries

EDMONTON - One surgeon at Edmonton's Stollery Children's Hospital is saying that the health minister’s numbers on cancelled surgeries are a little off.

Earlier this week, Stephen Mandel said that one per cent of procedures were cancelled in Alberta every year, and that’s not an uncommon number.

But Dr. Bryan Dicken says that includes outpatient procedures, which aren’t affected by cancellations as often because the cancellation numbers comes down to beds.

“If we don’t have a sufficient or an appropriate bed to put in after surgery, then we would see that that’s a safety problem,” Dicken says. “Premature babies require special monitoring after surgery, and if we don’t have that special monitoring available I wouldn’t be willing to jeopardize that patient’s care.”

Dicken says that he tells parents too often that their child’s surgery is going to be postponed, sometimes for the second or third time.

“I don’t think I have to point out just how difficult that must be for most families,” he says. “There’s a financial cost to it, some people are travelling from very great distances and they’re travelling far distances to do so.”

According to a release from the Alberta NDP, data obtained through a FOIP request shows that, in the last nine months, postponed surgeries have nearly doubled what was reported in 12 months last year at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. By December of last year, 200 surgeries had been postponed.

“This government has made promise after promise to fix our health care system and we haven’t seen an improvement, in fact things have gotten worse,” NDP Leader Rachel Notley says. “The PCs have refused to listen to frontline workers like Dr. Dicken for years and the results have been catastrophic.”

“If the province moves forward with cuts. I don’t know what we’ll do,” Dicken says. “There is nothing we can cut. We can’t squeeze any more water from this stone.”