WHEREAS Northern Alberta suffers from a shortage of medical doctors, nurses and medical technical personnel and WHEREAS medical doctors, nurses and other medical technical personnel hesitate to relocate to rural northern Alberta to pursue their careers and WHEREAS a critical situation exists with the shortage of professional personnel in northern Alberta
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC lobby the Provincial government to establish more educational training schools and hospitals, particularly in rural Alberta, in an attempt to promote the northern areas of our province.
Delivery of health care in the Peace Region has been affected for some time and in fact, there have been long periods of time when the people of the region have had to do without certain basic services. Being unable to recruit certain health professions has caused this. Medical and nursing (Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses, Nurse Practitioners) staff are very difficult to recruit. An example of this is The Fairview Health Complex. This Complex serves an area of approximately 8000. There should be six family physician providing care to these residents; however, at best there are only four and oftentimes only three. This, of course, leaves the area short two to three physicians, therefore the area residents are unable to get care in a reasonable time frame. There are long waiting lists to get an appointment with a family physician and often the residents travel elsewhere to get medical attention. The last three years there has been a minimum of four to six vacancies for nurses. This places pressure on the remaining nurses, and care cannot always be carried out in timely fashion. As well this places added pressure on the budget in having to pay out unnecessary overtime and the regular staff quickly get tired and burnt out. Other allied health professionals such as social workers, Occupational Therapists, physiotherapists, recreation therapists, and lab and x-ray technologists are also very difficult to recruit. This causes much disruption and delay in reporting results of procedures to medical staff, as well as to these services when vacancies occur.
Resolution 13-05F regarding Attracting Physicians to Rural Alberta urges the Government of Alberta to accept responsibility for all aspects of health care in the Province of Alberta, including the recruitment and retention of health care professionals in smaller centers and rural communities. It also recommends an additional 150 spots be allotted for physicians at the University of Calgary and University of Alberta. The government response was that $70 million in investment for initiatives such as the Rural Physician Action Plan to attract physicians to rural Alberta in the last provincial budget.
In April of 2009, Alberta Health and Wellness provided additional information to the AAMDC. In 2007 and 2008, substantial increases were made to the number of spaces in health education programs. In 2007, 258 new spaces were added and 1038 new spaces were added in 2008. By 2012, these spaces will increase by 3,885. Expansions at post-secondary institutions in rural and regional communities received priority funding. Many programs have now expanded to their limits. Some health education programs also received funding in 2008 through the Health Workforce Action Plan to look at models of distributed education that would allow students to take some or all of their training outside the major metropolitan centres.