Alberta Liberal leader admits treating MLAs in his legislature office

Alberta Liberal Party Leader and physician Raj Sherman is seen on a television in a media room at the final day of the Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, AB on Thursday, December 13, 2012.



EDMONTON -- Alberta Liberal Party Leader Dr. Raj Sherman admitted Thursday that he has assessed and treated other MLAs in his office at the Alberta legislature so they could avoid long wait times -- but said it is an example of "professional courtesy," not "queue-jumping."

Sherman told a panel investigating claims of queue-jumping that he had in the past medically treated his colleagues so they could avoid long wait times in waiting rooms.

"Any physician will tell you that family members, friends, will come to you with a hangnail or (whatever). If it was a major issue I'd (tell them) you need to go to the emergency room," he said.

Sherman, an emergency room doctor, said he saw MLAs, often while they were "stuck in committee meetings," for various ailments like eczema, slivers and in one case an injured rotator cuff.

He added that he didn't charge for any of those assessments or prescriptions.

Lead commission counsel Michele Hollins asked Sherman if just anyone could show up to his legislature office and be assessed and given a prescription.

"Ma'am, it was professional courtesy." Sherman replied.

Much of his testimony was discounted by commissioner John Vertes, as he said Sherman hadn't actually seen first-hand any examples of queue-jumping, only heard of it through conversations with other doctors.

"It seems he has no direct knowledge or experience of expedited or preferential care," Vertes said.

"As I understand from your testimony, many of your comments were based on general discussions with your colleagues rather than your personal experience."

An emotional Sherman countered that although he did not have direct examples, as an ER doctor he is well aware of the effects that queue-jumping can have on the ill.

"Justice Vertis, I want you to carry the burden that I have been carrying," he said. "I can give you the names of people that have died. Is this not something that you should be looking at?"

In testimony earlier this week, Sherman denied ever helping VIPs jump waiting lists -- as implied by the former head of Alberta Health Services (AHS) Stephen Duckett.

Sherman was associate health minister when Stephen Duckett was head of the province's health superboard.

Duckett told an inquiry into health-care queue-jumping Tuesday that when he became health boss, there were so-called "fix-it" people who helped VIPs get faster health treatment. He named Sherman as one, but could not remember others.

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