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The profession currently faces a time of challenge. While physicians are not alone in facing the ramifications of our current economic and political climate, proposals on the table could have substantial impacts for Family Physicians across the province. This is a time that needs unity across the profession. We recognize the importance that strong primary care plays in improving health outcomes of the population as a whole. It is important that those in government recognize that as well. While efficiencies in health care delivery can be found, it is important to ensure that the delivery of primary care in communities across the province is not affected by decisions being made from a fiscal perspective.
In times of economic hardship, we see multiple socioeconomic issues that impact the physical health and mental health of our patients across the province. Ensuring that family physicians across the province have the support and resources to deal with these challenges is essential to the health outcomes of our patients. Proposals that could limit access to primary care will only result in future cost to the system and to the well-being of our population. It is important that any proposals impacting primary care delivery in the province be well thought out with careful consideration of the implications of policy decisions. An example is illustrated in a joint editorial response by the ACFP and CFPC to Bill 21 recently published in the Globe and Mail.
In recent days, we have seen further developments that could impact funding of Family Physicians. As changes and new challenges arise, our advocacy efforts will continue to represent Family Physicians and the needs of the patients we serve. The Alberta Medical Association, including the AMA Section of Family Medicine is advocating strongly for the need to preserve the ability of Family Physicians to delivery comprehensive, longitudinal care to our communities across the province. We stand beside them in advocating for the need to preserve a strong primary care system in Alberta. Over the years, we have seen gains in team-based care and medical home models of delivery, enabling our patients to be cared for by teams of dedicated individuals working every day to improve their health outcomes and well-being. We need to ensure that these gains are not lost but rather strengthened further over time.
The last couple of months have seen various issues that have seen a wide range of opinion. One example was the proposed Bill 207. After last month’s President and Executive Director’s message, we received a diversity of views and opinions regarding the Bill. While our follow-up survey indicated that 80% of respondents opposed Bill 207, we valued hearing the various perspectives and considerations that a diverse group of physicians brought forward to us. While as individuals we will always have diversity in how we view different topics, I hope we are united in wanting to see the best for our patients and our communities. Family Physicians as a group are dedicated and committed to improving health outcomes of those we care for. With that goal in mind, we continue to advocate for the importance that Family Medicine has to the health and well-being of our province, especially in difficult times.
Vishal Bhella, MD, CCFP
Alberta College of Family Physicians