Doctors denounce premier for lack of response

After almost a month, Alberta doctors are still waiting for the province to apologize for widespread intimidation and muzzling of physicians advocating for their patients.

After almost a month, Alberta doctors are still waiting for the province to apologize for widespread intimidation and muzzling of physicians advocating for their patients.

A culture of fear and alienation in Alberta’s health-care system was exposed in a Health Quality Council of Alberta report, released on Feb. 22.

The report did not recommend a public inquiry into the issue, but physicians are demanding an inquiry.

On Friday, presidents of the five medical health zones, including Dr. Malcolm Campbell, of Central Alberta, denounced Premier Alison Redford’s government lack of response on the cusp of calling an election.

“We have to acknowledge that Alberta Health Services has taken the issue seriously in terms of making sure the issue doesn’t continue,” said Campbell, Alberta Medical Association president of medical staff for the Alberta Health Services Central Zone, on Monday.

“But the physicians who came forward to the Health Quality Council, and those who probably weren’t trusting the system and afraid to come forward, and the membership generally, don’t feel vindicated in that the government hasn’t really wanted to uncover what did go on.”

Premier Alison Redford promised an independent inquiry during her Conservative leadership campaign, based on the recommendations of the council. But only allegations that politicians jumped the queue to access health services faster will be examined.

Campbell, who works at the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury in Ponoka, said the culture of intimidation existed in the old regional system before the creation of Alberta Health Services.

“It just happens to be ongoing and it affects not only the physicians, but nurses and other front-line workers, and that’s related to limited resources and everyone trying to abdicate for their own group of patients.”

He said now is the time for voters to tell provincial politicians what they want in health care.

“If health care is an important issue to them, then they have to vocalize to their future representatives what it is they exactly want from this system. Once you get into the four-year electoral cycle, it seems to be that decisions are made from the point of view of caucus rather than the point of view of the general electorate.”

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