The Government of Alberta said it is taking action to address long lab service waits and delays in receiving results in Calgary.
The province announced on Aug. 3 that Alberta Health Services (AHS) and DynaLIFE made a joint decision to allow for Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) to offer more community lab services appointments.
DynaLIFE had begun taking over for Alberta Precision Laboratories—a wholly owned subsidiary of AHS—in December of 2022, after the government claimed the transition would provide better service and cost-savings for Calgarians.
That transition has led to months of long-delays for lab services in Calgary, and in recent weeks, increased political pressure on the government from the official opposition.
“It is unacceptable that Albertans are facing constant delays to get a simple test or blood work done. Lab tests are a critical part of a patient’s health care journey from diagnosis to treatment, and Albertans must be able to access them when and where they need them,” said Premier Danielle Smith
“That’s why we have directed Alberta Health Services to make changes right now.”
The province said that they have immediately added an additional 400 testing appointments on Saturday, August 5, at the South Health Campus and Peter Lougheed Centre.
“Today is an important step forward with an immediate infusion of new appointments and hundreds more to come over the next few weeks. Our government is committed to ensuring all Albertans have timely access to lab services regardless of where they live,” said Alberta’s Minister of Health, Adriana LaGrange.
An additional 175 appointments are being added on Aug. 12 at the Foothills Medical Centre lab.
The province said that these appointments can be booked by calling 1-877-702-4486.
Alberta Precision Laboratories will be taking on 7,500 additional weekly appointments though the recruiting of additional staff to add 2,000 appointments weekly through the APL hospital system through the fall, contracting for an additional 3,000 appointments through third-party providers by mid-to-late August, and opening a new community patient centre in southeast Calgary in late all for an additional 2,500 appointments.
“Our focus is on patients, and ensuring the safety, accessibility, and stability of lab services. We understand and appreciate the challenges that Albertans have faced with lab services in recent months and we are dedicated to addressing these concerns,” said AHS CEO Mauro Chies.
Opposition calls new appointments ‘band-aid solution’
The Alberta Government said in June 2022, during the announcement that DynaLIFE would be taking over for APL, that the government would be saving approximately $18 million to $36 million per year in lab services fees.
The government said that the DynaLIFE had been selected through a competitive request for proposals process.
Dr. Luanne Metz, Alberta NDP Critic for Health (Emergency and Surgical Care), said that the government’s announcement on Thursday was a sign that the plan for the transition in lab services was a failure.
“While this is an important first step, this is the UCP putting a bandage on the crisis they created,” she said.
“We are concerned that there is nothing in this plan to help fix the serious lab errors that are happening daily. More tests being done is a start but we need a plan to assure we get accurate, timely results delivered immediately to the correct physician.”
Dr. Metz criticized Minister LaGrange and Premier Smith for using public funds as a “bail out” for DynaLIFE.
“Smith and LaGrange owe the people of Alberta an apology for their role in creating this crisis and a real and honest accounting for how much Albertans are paying to cover for DynaLIFE’s failures.”