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Province and AMA introduce a memorandum of understanding to support family docs

Stabilizing primary care in Alberta a focus of announcement, with deadline for action by next provincial budget. Critics say action on doctor shortage is needed now.
Primary health care providers will be compensated for increasing their patient load. Photo Metro Creative Connection

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the province and the AMA (Alberta Medical Association) to support primary health physicians is meant to stabilize and improve care across the province, health minister Adrianna LaGrange said on Tuesday.

"Right now, many Albertans can’t find a family doctor or get an appointment with the one they have," LaGrange said.

New AMA president Dr. Paul Parks said the association will work with the government to ensure the viability of family medicine and rural practices across the province. 

"The MOU is an express commitment and investment into family medicine and rural generalists with a firm deadline of the next provincial budget," Parks said. "I am relieved government will heed their pleas for action."

In a news release, the province said the MOU includes collaborating on the development and transition to a new family physician compensation model, finding ways to alleviate the administrative burden on family physicians, modernizing primary care governance, supporting family doctors to spend more time with patients, and identifying other short-term actions that can stabilize primary health care.  

David Shepherd, Alberta NDP Health Critic for Primary and Rural Care, said he understands why the AMA would want it in writing that the UCP government collaborate with physicians and support primary health care.

"There is an extreme shortage of family doctors and care physicians in this province and the UCP clearly has no real plan on how to fix that crisis," Shepherd said. "I and my colleague MLA Luanne Metz would welcome the opportunity to join the UCP government’s task force announced last week. Perhaps we can help speed up the process and see the government take real action now."