Provincial auditor‘s report calls for better healthcare services

The latest provincial auditor’s report focused on 32 subject areas, with special attention paid to healthcare.

Auditor Judy Ferguson examined mental health services available in the community and healthcare for inmates in jails.

“The population that goes into those facilities are really often a higher risk population of having medical issues,” Ferguson said a press conference on Thursday. “They often are people that don’t go to their doctors regularly, they may have mental health and addiction issues, they may have other potentially infectious diseases issues too. So, they’re a higher-risk population. So what you want to make sure is that, in a closed community, that you aren’t creating a situation where you’re putting other inmates at risk.”

The Regina Correctional Centre says it’s a complex situation.

“Some of these other things are going to be longer-term fixes,” said Drew Wilby with the Ministry of Justice. “Looking at what that model actually is going to take some time. But, we’re committed to getting there and we’re committed to worker with the auditor’s office on the recommendations she’s put forward.”

The report also looked at improving mental health and addictions services to the former Prince Albert Parkland Health Region, which is now part of the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

In 2016-17, the report says the region spent $13.2-million on mental health services – the second-highest spending per capita when compared to other provincial health regions.

Ferguson said the demand for mental health and addictions services was outpacing its capacity to supply them – with mental health inpatient beds full and clients turned away from detox services.

In her report, Ferguson also said wait times for clients exceeded targets for the region. It was still using manual records and was in the beginning stages of moving to a provincial IT mental health system. It also did not have access to information provided to other publicly funded healthcare providers like family physicians.

“Having completed information about a client’s past treatment readily accessible to healthcare professionals would help them provide appropriate treatment and assist in the continuity of care,” Ferguson said. “This is critical in ensuring the best possible outcomes for mental health and addictions clients.”

Officials in Prince Albert say they are working to stretch out the healthcare dollars as best they can.