Lett, Dan, Winnipeg Free Press
It’s one of the single biggest days of change for health care in Manitoba, although nobody using the system will likely notce a difference.
Starting today, more than 12,000 people who work within Manitoba’s health-care system will begin a six-week process that will result in them changing employers. Employees of dozens of disparate offices, agencies and facilities now work for Shared Health, the province’s new central agency for the planning and delivery of health services.
Announced in 2018 with much fanfare, Shared Health has been busy assuming administrative responsibility for a number of key health services, including Winnipeg ambulance and diagnostic imaging.
However, until this week, employees responsible for these services continued to work for the same entities. That changes with the launch of the first phase of a three-phase consolidation plan.
Once complete in early April, all 12,000 employees will toil for Shared Health. For the time being, there will be no job losses, no elimination of positions and nobody will be asked to move communities. Many will, however, move offices over the next six weeks as the consolidation plan unfolds.
Dr. Brock Wright, president and chief executive officer of Shared Health, said the consolidation will affect five distinct groups or facilities within the health-care system: the Health Sciences Centre; EMS and patient transport; diagnostic imaging; digital health services; and corporate support including capital planning and legal services.
The employee relocation will involve moving between three locations — the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority headquarters on Main Street, Shared Health’s main offices at 155 Carlton St. and the Health Sciences Centre, which will become the first provincial hospital under the consolidation plan.
Some of the affected employees reside in communities outside Winnipeg but Wright said no one is being asked to relocate to the city as part of this phase.
Given this is just the first of a three-phase consolidation of health service administration and clinical standards, few people using the system will notice any change. However, Wright said Shared Health expects to achieve significant efficiencies through this process that could, over the long haul, allow the system to do more in a more financially sustainable fashion.
Ultimately, that may involve finding ways of doing more with the same or fewer people, although those decisions are not going to be made in this phase, Wright said.
“When you look at what we’re trying to do… it opens up so many opportunities to improve the system,” he said. “If we can improve efficiency… we can redirect dollars to areas of greatest need.”
The Shared Health model, already in place in other provinces, is based on solid reasoning. In effect, the theory is that applying the same standards for everything from procurement to administration and actual clinical treatment will ultimately produce a more efficient system