More than 90 percent of Alberta family doctors concerned about their practices’ financial viability: AMA

Despite the need for family doctors in the province, physicians are considering leaving the Alberta healthcare system if a new compensation model isn’t adopted soon. Silvia Naranjo reports.

By Silvia Naranjo

Doctors say the situation is dire for primary care in Alberta, with some practices at risk of closing because they can’t afford to pay their own staff.

“At the end of the day you don’t feel like you’re being appreciated when these things are going unnoticed and you’re being told to do more to accept more patients,” said Omar Kadri, an Edmonton physician.

A recent survey by the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) found that over 90 per cent of family doctors are concerned about the financial viability of their practices, while 61 per cent are considering leaving the Alberta healthcare system.

The report shows physicians practicing for over 25 years are considering early retirement and newer physicians are looking to work in another province or country.

“In the cities and you know — Edmonton and Calgary where we have big centres — healthcare is a little bit more easily accessible than someone who might be in a more rural environment, but 100 per cent it is definitely a crisis there is no, there’s no way to put that lightly,” said Jack Yen, a family medicine resident at the University of Alberta.

Doctors say Alberta is facing a shortage of family physicians prompting more patients to look for primary care in already over-crowded hospitals.

“Lots of different hospital teams are just over panels, just way too many patients that they have to see, we have patients waiting out in the hallways and this is just not good patient care anymore,” Yen said.

The AMA has proposed a new compensation model to the Alberta government, which it hopes will be considered in the 2024 budget cycle.

“We just got an email from Alberta Medical Association president saying that they sat down with the with the health minister and they’re promising that they’re going to be writing more funding to family physicians,” Kadri said. “[We] will wait to see if that if that happens or not and what that actually looks like.”

“The price of everything in the clinic has gone up the price of supplies have gone up but my salary hasn’t gone up,” he added.

Alberta is expecting funding from the federal government by April of this year for the previously announced $200 million over two years to help family doctors, but nothing has been confirmed.

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