Provincial Health Ethics Service announces funding changes

EDMONTON, Jan. 18 /CNW/ - Due to impending budget restrictions and health care restructuring, the Provincial Health Ethics Network (PHEN) of Alberta will develop a scaled-down structure and function to take effect April 1, 2010. While it is not yet clear what form a restructured PHEN will take, it is anticipated to be based on a primarily volunteer-driven resource base.

"Over the course of its 14-year history," says PHEN's Board Chairperson Joan Cody, "PHEN has established an international reputation as a go-to resource for addressing ethical issues that arise in health care. Rather than ceasing operations completely, we have decided to pursue an alternative, scaled-down model that we hope will allow us to maintain the important structure of an independent ethics resource for the province, albeit with significantly slimmed down operations."

Alberta Health & Wellness, PHEN's primary funder from 1996 to 2008, ceased its financial support for PHEN last spring, citing fiscal limitations and a greater focus on governance over implementation. Alberta Health Services (AHS) generously stepped in to keep PHEN operational over the past fiscal year. However, due to its own budget constraints and a desire to build internal capacity to address ethics issues, AHS has indicated that it will no longer be able to maintain this bridge funding.

The Board of PHEN will meet in late January to determine future directions for the organization, the details of which will be made public in February.

PHEN was created in 1995 in response to needs identified by Albertans and articulated in the Alberta government's Rainbow Report on Future Health Care for Albertans. It is mandated to provide to all Albertans easily accessible, high-quality health ethics education and support for ethical decision-making. Since its inception, PHEN has played an instrumental role in developing capacity within the health system to address a wide range of ethical issues emerging in the complex world of modern health care. PHEN does not advocate for or take positions on particular ethical issues; its role is to facilitate thoughtful, informed and reasoned ethical decision-making from all perspectives.

SOURCE PROVINCIAL HEALTH ETHICS NETWORK

For further information: For further information: Joan Cody, Board Chair, Provincial Health Ethics Network, Phone: (780) 675-2291 or (780) 689-9306, Email: jcody@extendicare.com

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PROVINCIAL HEALTH ETHICS NETWORK

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