Health spending increases, health regions tasked to find millions in efficiencies

REGINA – Health regions in Saskatchewan have been tasked to find millions in efficiencies as the government increases health spending in the 2013 budget.

The health budget is increasing by 3.5 per cent, going up $162 million to $4.8 billion to make up almost 42 per cent of total expenses in the provincial budget.

Of that money, $3 billion is going to the health regions, up $132 million.

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At the same time, health regions have been told to find $54 million in efficiencies this budget year through administrative savings, increased use of shared resources along with efforts to reduce time lost due to injuries, premium pay and sick time.

“Every health care decision we make is through a patient-first lens, to help us provide improved access to quality health services that make a meaningful difference for patients and their families,” said Health Minster Dustin Duncan.

An area the government is focusing on is reducing surgical wait times and is earmarking $10 million more to the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative (SSI) to meet the goal of reducing waiting times to three months.

The Health Ministry says increasing the amount going to the SSI by 16.5 per cent to $70.5 million will result in up to 7,000 more surgeries being performed in the upcoming year.

The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency will also receive more money, with its budget up 8.6 per cent to $150.7, an increase of $12 million.

Another $3.7 million will go towards the operation of a new PET CT scanner at Royal University Hospital, which is scheduled to be operational later this spring.

Money is also going toward capital investments, with $50 million tabbed for the replacement of the Moose Jaw hospital and $70.6 million for co-owned long-term care facilities in Biggar, Kelvington, Kerrobert, Kipling, Maple Creek and Prince Albert.

The government is looking to save $20 million through initiatives to lower prices on generic drugs.

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