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Government & Policy

Saskatchewan to invest $66 million in equipment

REGINA – Saskatchewan announced that it will invest most of a $66 million cash infusion from the federal government in new systems designed to improve the delivery of diagnostic imaging and surgical procedures.

It will also invest in systems for staff training, safety and improvements in morale.

The First Ministers’ meeting, held in Ottawa in September, provided an additional $66 million to Saskatchewan in 2004-05 and a further $97 million next year. On average, the province will receive an additional $90 million per year over six years.

“Improving access to quality healthcare services is a key goal of the 10-year plan to strengthen healthcare agreed to by the First Ministers,” said John Nilson, Saskatchewan’s health minister.

“We are focusing on priority areas to address immediate needs within the health system, while at the same time providing a basis for improved, sustainable health delivery in the future.”

Nilson said in the first year of this multi-year agreement, Saskatchewan’s priority is on one-time purchases that will address urgent pressures and that will buy immediate improvements in healthcare.

Saskatchewan will begin shopping for:

• New Linear Accelerator ($3M) for the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency’s Saskatoon Cancer Centre.

• New diagnostic imaging equipment to begin replacement of aging systems ($8.3M). The plan includes the upgrading of the cardiac catheterization lab in Saskatoon, upgrading of CTs in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert to improve throughput and operating efficiency, and other diagnostic imaging equipment based on greatest need.

• Development of Radiology Information System (RIS) ($3.5M). An investment in radiology information systems is intended to increase efficiency at larger radiology departments by streamlining the scheduling of staff, patients and equipment.

• Diagnostic Imaging wait list registry ($1M). The goal is to develop a new diagnostic imaging wait list registry similar to the surgical wait list registry.

• Finalize payment of the new MRI in Regina ($2.4M). This will fast-track acquisition of the new MRI, which was announced in the provincial budget.

The province also plans investments that are designed to retain healthcare providers by providing safer, higher quality workplaces, continuing education and training ($11 million).

• Quality Workplace Initiative ($2M). Funding will be available to develop initiatives based upon identified needs to improve worker morale, job satisfaction, turnover rates, absenteeism, illness and injury rates. It will dedicate resources and build capacity within the health system to improve staff satisfaction.

• Equipment supporting safer workplaces ($6M). Equipment that assists caregivers. For example, additional patient lifts for bedside caregivers and replacing old beds in nursing homes and hospitals with electric beds to ease the burden of lifting and transferring bed-ridden, heavy-care residents and patients. This reduces staff injury and lost hours of work.

• Continuing Education and Training ($1M). Clinical education, program skills, professional development, mentorship programs, management training and tools.

Physician Recruitment ($1M). The College of Physicians and Surgeons and Saskatchewan Health will co-manage an International Medical Graduate (IMG) program.