Alberta NDP announces health-care plan for easier access to medical care, physicians

The NDP announced a plan Wednesday to connect one million Albertans with a family doctor – part of the party’s “commitment to rebuild and strengthen family health care in Alberta.”

The plan is “a critical step in ending the chaos in hospitals and ambulances caused by the UCP,” the Opposition party wrote in a news release.

The NDP said it believes its Family Health Teams plan would help people see their family doctor within a day or two when they need medical attention, therefore freeing up space and long lines in the ER and hospitals.

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The plan calls for a transition fund to hire 1,500 non-physician employees immediately into existing clinics, as well as the opening of 10 family health clinics across the province.

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People would have access to nurse practitioners, doctors, nurses, mental health therapists, pharmacists, social workers, dieticians, community paramedics, physiotherapists, midwives, speech pathologists and more, the NDP said.

“If patients have access to accurate information, timely screening and regular check-ins with a provider who knows them, then we have a better chance of keeping people healthy and addressing issues early,” said Dr. Alana Luft, a physician who joined the NDP for the party’s announcement.

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“If we are able to optimize wellness and reduce incidence of severe disease in the primary care setting, there will be far less stress on hospitals and ERs where the costs to the individuals and the system are much higher.”

Premier Danielle Smith, who is also the UCP leader, has said that health care is one of her top two priorities, and went so far as to say the province would move forward with health-care reform without federal government funding. However, Canadian premiers accepted the federal government’s latest health-care funding proposal Monday.

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In a statement to Global News, Scott Johnston, press secretary for the health minister, said the province is “spending a record health budget to add staff and physicians and build capacity across the system,” and added that the province has “record numbers of doctors, nurses and other front-line staff working in our health system.”

Johnston said the province is actively recruiting new health-care staff, mentioning Alberta’s recently announced recruitment plan for internationally trained physicians, as well as adding additional ambulances to the EMS fleet.

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