Nine doctors who work in the Lac La Biche hospital have signed a letter saying they will not be working at the William J. Cadzow Health Centre for ER and Obstetrical services after July. The letter, which was given to media from the NDP opposition party on Thursday, states the main reason for their departure is recent changes to funding from the provincial UCP party.
“We regret to inform you that due to recent government funding changes to our Schedule of Medical Benefit Claim fees, we have been obliged to restructure our Medical Practice to cope with the loss of income. As a result we will not continue to support the William J. Cadzow Health Centre for ER and Obstetrical coverage after July 31st, 2020. We are hereby officially resigning our hospital privileges effective July 31, 2020.”
Doctors have been saying that the recent changes to funding mean areas like rural Alberta could face a shortage of staff and even closures. Earlier in the month, the Alberta Medical Association filed a lawsuit against the province’s ministry of health, claiming a denial of rights during negotiations.
In an email, Press Secretary for the provincial health minister Steve Buick says the province is working towards the future when it comes to services.
“If these physicians choose to voluntarily give up their privileges in a way that would reduce access to care, we’ll work with AHS to replace them and ensure access is maintained.”
“We’ll also begin exploring longer-term solutions to augment and stabilize physician services in Lac la Biche and any other community as required.”
Buick adds that the government is maintaining payments to physicians at “$5.4 billion this year, the highest level ever.”