Doctors not being consulted: outgoing AMA president

The Alberta Medical Association’s outgoing president has come out swinging at the province.

CALGARY — The Alberta Medical Association’s outgoing president has come out swinging at the province.

Dr. Noel Grisdale says physicians have been left out of decisions to heal the health care system.

Grisdale was speaking Saturday at the association’s annual general meeting.

He says the group’s members are aware of budget challenges facing the province and changes needed to the system.

But he says feedback from doctors, the public and other health professionals has been excluded from the process.

He says doctors’ expertise, experience and efforts could have resulted in better decisions.

Grisdale’s comments came a day after Health Minister Ron Liepert told doctors about changes he wants to make to how physicians are paid.

The minister has also told the province’s doctors not to expect a proposed $518 an hour pay scale during an expected fall resurgence of the H1N1 virus.

Grisdale said the AMA would not oppose Liepert’s proposal fee structure that would pay physicians for each patient they care for, rather than their number of clinic trips, as a way to deal with a shortage of health care professionals and the number of citizens without a family doctor.

“From our perspective, we’re open to all discussions about all those different aspects of payment,” he said.

“It’s only one small piece of the solution though and doesn’t fit for everyone — it’s something that’s very reasonable to look at. ”

“Our visions has always been patients first so I think we’re on the same wavelength as far as that goes.”

But Grisdale said Bill 52, which amended the Health Information Act, was brought forward in late 2008 without consultation with doctors.

“Until the AMA became involved, it appeared that the very private health information of patients would only remain private at the whim of the minister of Health and Wellness and not the discretion and wishes of patients themselves,” he said.

As well, without warning, the Minister’s Advisory Committee on Health was created after the AMA had been asking both government and Alberta Health Services to begin discussions on improvements to the system.

“Change is needed — but it needs to be done with proper input, with proper consultation, and true feedback from all stakeholders,” he said.

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