I have been a family doctor and GP surgeon in the Bow Valley for almost 13 years.
I would normally never discuss politics publicly, but I feel compelled to speak out against the recent cuts announced by Health Minister Shandro as they will seriously jeopardize the healthcare system and threaten the safety of my patients.
I see firsthand every day that the downturn in Alberta's economy has resulted in hardship for so many families. I understand that cuts are necessary.
In our last round of negotiations with the government, physicians voluntarily found $250 million of savings. When negotiations began again in November 2019, Alberta doctors proposed an across the board fee decrease which would have saved $175 million and we were working on plans for further savings while minimizing the impact on our patients. We then found out through the media that Minister Shandro had terminated negotiations, torn up our existing contract and unilaterally imposed drastic changes which mainly target family doctors.
As a family doctor, I treasure the long-term relationships that I have built with my patients over the years. Those relationships take time to build. Practicing safe, comprehensive and thorough medicine takes time.
Until now, the government has compensated me for spending more time with my patients. Minister Shandro's cuts effectively disincentivize physicians from spending more than 10 minutes with their patients. These changes will mainly affect family doctors who also have to pay the costs of running an office such as a lease, staff, equipment and utilities. We estimate that our income will decrease by 30-40%.
I am heartsick at the thought of having to choose between running a financially viable small business, or giving my patients the time that they need and deserve.
I would ask the residents of the Bow Valley to please stand with your doctors and contact our MLA, Miranda Rosin. Phone: (403) 609-4509 Email: Banff.Kananaskis@assembly.ab.ca
Please contact Health Minister Tyler Shandro and let him know this attack on family medicine and the medical home is not acceptable. Phone: (780) 427-3665 Email: Calgary.Acadia@assembly.ab.ca
Thank you for your support.
Dr Liana Hwang
Family Physician, Mountain Maternity and Family Medicine