To the Editor:
I am writing this letter to express my deep concerns regarding upcoming proposed government changes to payments to family doctors.
As a practicing physician in rural Alberta for the past 30 years I feel that I am in a good position to predict the possible fallout from these ill-conceived cuts.
Family practice is one of the most difficult disciplines in medicine. Other specialties such as cardiology or dermatology can focus on one system in the body. On the other hand, patients can present to their family doctor with multiple complaints, which takes time and effort to sort out. Referrals and access to specialists are taking longer and rural constituents have fewer resources available locally.
Trips to Edmonton are expensive and involve time off work and loss of productivity, etc.
Seniors and patients with chronic medical conditions are going to suffer the most.
The proposed cuts are promoting a ‘one problem, one visit to the doctor (system).’ At the present time doctors can use their own professional discretion if a little more time is needed with a complex issue.
According to Premier Kenney, patients are not that complex and with all due respect I wish he could shadow me or one of my colleagues for a day before he makes comments such as this.
It is a puzzle why he is targeting primary care and not using more innovative measures to explore other ways to trim healthcare expenditure.
If Albertans truly value access to a family doctor, and a solid education, they need to express their concerns loudly to their local MLA and Minister for Health.
My husband Dr. John Keaveny and I have already met with our local MLA Mr. Pat Rehn and his only comment was the party line – that we were overpaid compared to B.C. and Saskatchewan. Recent fact checks show that MLAs also earn more than other provinces, as is true for many other counterparts in Alberta.
Dr. Terry O‘Keeffe
MB BAO DCh MRCGP