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Sunday , 29 May 2022

MLA Dave Hanson puts responsibility on AHS for lack of doctors in the Lakeland

The City of Cold Lake was recently notified by Alberta Health Services (AHS) that there will be periods at the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre when there will be no anesthetist coverage and MLA Dave Hanson says he puts the responsibility on AHS for the lack of doctors in the Lakeland.

“I’ve been fighting very hard for hospital capacity and access for rural Alberta and the people up here deserve better,” MLA Dave Hanson told Lakeland Connect in an exclusive interview. “I’m doing my best as an MLA to correct the situation.”

MLA Hanson has been advocating for more doctors in the Lakeland for the last six years and says people in the Lakeland should “Put some pressure on AHS management, like in the North Zone especially, you know, it’s no secret I’ve been pushing for this for six years.”

Recently residents in the Lakeland have experienced closures and disrupted service in hospitals in Cold Lake, St. Paul, and Elk Point.

“To me that’s unacceptable. As an MLA it’s unacceptable,” MLA Hanson said. “It’s pretty hard to answer to your constituents when they don’t have one of the main concerns fulfilled which is health care. I constantly bring up that our constituency produces 30 per cent of the bitumen royalties for the province in the country.”

Hanson is blaming AHS for the lack of doctors in the Lakeland and says, “I really feel for the folks especially expecting mothers that can’t have access to physician services to have a baby. You know if you’re having to head to Edmonton because it’s the closest place, this is totally unacceptable.”

On January 20, Minister of Health Jason Copping and Alberta Medical Association (AMA) president Dr. Michelle Warren are issued the following update on physician negotiations:

The Government of Alberta and the AMA are exploring a return to formal negotiations toward a provincial agreement for Alberta physicians.

Before returning to negotiations, the parties have agreed to act on some high-priority healthcare system issues that will support system stability. These actions, combined with those announced in summer 2021, demonstrate that both sides wish to rebuild the relationship and are willing and able to work together.

Actions include:

  • COVID response – The government and physicians have collaborated to address the pandemic and Omicron surge, such as determining the best ways to manage rapid testing in the community, the guidance to give patients, and updated recommendations on PPE requirements.
  • Physician compensation – The government has agreed to delay the Dec. 31, 2021 implementation of Alberta Health Services stipends, Z-code fee reductions, and AHS overhead policy, allowing time for further discussion on these important topics within the context of a comprehensive strategic compensation framework that delivers value for dollars spent and fairness for physicians.
  • Virtual care – On Jan. 1, the government implemented two high-priority changes to recognize the value of physician time in patient care, as recommended by an Alberta Health/AMA/AHS/College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta virtual care working group and the Physician Compensation Advisory Committee. Improving access to virtual care is increasingly important to patients who need to access care but wish to limit their personal interactions during the pandemic. Balancing the payments for virtual and in-person options allows physicians to choose the best mode of care delivery without having to worry about compensation.

The next phase involves working with labour and management facilitator Rick Wilson to prepare both sides to begin interest-based negotiations as soon as possible. Interest-based negotiations mean that the parties share the interests behind issues of disagreement and look for win-win solutions that meet the needs of all. For example, an interest-based approach may address common interests such as quality, sustainability in the healthcare system, and stability of physician practices.

NDP Health Critic David Shepherd issued the following statement:

“I’m pleased to see that the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Medical Association are exploring a return to formal negotiations toward a provincial agreement for Alberta doctors.

“It has been almost two years since the UCP tore up the province’s contract with doctors and began a war on frontline healthcare providers amidst a global pandemic.

“The consequences of the UCP’s actions have been incredibly harmful to Alberta families and communities, especially in rural areas. There are bed closures, cancelled surgeries, closed emergency rooms, and closed labour and delivery rooms across the province today thanks to the UCP.

“To be clear, as long as the UCP’s Bill 21 remains in effect, Jason Kenney and his UCP Health Minister have the power to tear up any future contract with doctors on a whim. To enter these negotiations in good faith, the UCP must repeal these elements of Bill 21.”

The full interview with MLA Dave Hanson can be viewed on Lakeland Connects Facebook page.

About Arthur C. Green

Arthur C. Green is an award winning journalist and is from Whitbourne Newfoundland. Green graduated from the CNA Journalism Program. Arthur also studied Business Marketing and Political Science at Memorial University in Essex England and St. John's Newfoundland. Green has worked for such organizations as CBC, CBC Radio, NTV, Saltwire, Great West Media, CKLB Radio, River Radio, Vista Radio, and Postmedia. He also loves Jiggs Dinner and can fillet a Codfish.