Alberta’s NDP is calling attention to the drop in the number of doctors in rural Alberta, including 17 lost in central Alberta.
The NDP said doctors continue to flee rural areas under the UCP’s mismanagement of the healthcare system, according to data from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.
Registration reports show that 140 doctors left Alberta in 2021, almost double the number that left in 2017.
Central, North, and South Zones with Alberta Health Services (AHS) all have fewer doctors in 2021 than in 2020.
“Albertans outside our major cities have less access to the health care they need because of the UCP’s ongoing attacks on health care,” said NDP health critic David Shepherd.
“Families are being left without a doctor, emergency rooms are closing, and expectant mothers are being forced to drive hundreds of kilometres to deliver their child because the UCP are driving doctors out of the province.”
The number of doctors in Alberta Health Services Central Zone grew steadily from 705 in 2017 to 777 in 2019 before dropping to 760 in 2021.
The NDP said the UCP’s tactics to force changes in compensation of doctors are similar to tactics they have used against nurses, and other frontline healthcare professionals, including respiratory therapists and social workers.
“Not only is the UCP at war with doctors, they are attacking the entire network of health-care workers that Albertans rely on for care. No wonder doctors are pursuing their careers elsewhere,” Shepherd said.
AHS South Zone, where there are 41 fewer doctors than in 2019, is in the worst situation. In December 2021 the Primary Care Network said that up to 43,000 residents in Lethbridge do not have a family doctor, the NDP said.
“It is clear that the outcomes of the UCP’s war on doctors and their attacks against health care are leaving more Albertans without a doctor in Lethbridge,” said Shepherd.
Only AHS Edmonton and Calgary Zones had more doctors in 2021. Edmonton saw 60 more doctors, and there were nine more in Calgary.
Alberta Health said the province saw an overall gain of 33 doctors in 2021.