The Alberta Medical Association wants to hear from Albertans about how the health care system has let them down.
AMA president Dr. Vesta Michelle Warren said it’s the first time the organization has reached out to the general public to gather their input on how the system has failed them — whether it’s lengthy wait times, lack of family doctors or specialists, or whatever problem they have encountered.
“We’re trying to track down the impact on Albertans so we can see exactly what is going on, and where those needs are, so we can bring it to government. Without the evidence, without the numbers to back it up, it’s harder for people who aren’t involved to understand how bad it actually is,” said Warren, who is a family doctor in Sundre, a community that has been without obstetric care since April 2020.
“We’re trying to make the system better.”
Albertans can participate by taking the AMA’s short online survey at PatientsFirst.ca.
And when it comes to fixing the system, Warren said it has to be a team effort by government, unions, Alberta Health Services, doctors, nurses and everyone else on the frontline.
“As soon as we can right the boat, the better. But it is a big ship and it’s going to take time to turn. It is going to continue to be challenge.”
Thankfully Health Minister Jason Copping is open to addressing the weaknesses in the system, she said.
“I would say the health minister is very much keen to move forward and to work on these issues and recognizes the necessity. For that I am grateful. We do have a partner in Alberta Health.”
She said one thing that is clear is the need for more health care workers. Doctor burnout nearly doubled during the pandemic to 53 per cent. Doctor recruitment used to be a struggle north of the Yellowhead Highway. Now it’s become an issue in both rural and urban areas across Alberta.
“Alberta does have more family physicians and specialists than a lot of other areas, but we’re losing them, so we need to find a way to retain them.”
She said a contract has to be reached with the province that will give stability to physicians who are still here and attract physicians back into Alberta’s workforce.
“This year’s graduates have already made decisions about where they’re going to go. Next year’s graduates are just starting to make that decision.
“The shortage we’re seeing is not isolated to Alberta. We’re seeing it in other provinces too. There’s lots of competition and lots of places to go.”