Alberta Medical Association

Alberta Medical Association

September 26, 2009 12:00 ET

Outgoing Alberta Medical Association President Challenges Government, Alberta Health Services, to Fully Engage Physicians, Other Health Professionals and the Public

Make decisions because they are good for patients, not because they cost less

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Sept. 26, 2009)Alberta's health care system needs change, but change must be planned with proper consultation and true feedback from physicians, the public and other health professionals. This was the message of outgoing Alberta Medical Association (AMA) President Dr. Noel W. Grisdale.

In his valedictory address this morning, Dr. Grisdale said: "We are all aware of the revenue and budget challenges facing the Government. As a result, any decisions on health care by Government and by Alberta Health Services naturally lead many Albertans to believe that dollars are deciding what is best for Alberta's health care system, and not evidence-based decisions on what is best for patients."

"The AMA and Alberta physicians understand the financial situation. But we do not understand why we have been excluded from decisions where our expertise, our experience and our efforts could have resulted in better decisions."

Dr. Grisdale spoke about health privacy legislation, Bill 52, the Health Information Amendment Act, that was brought forward by Alberta Health and Wellness in late 2008, without any consultation with physicians. Until the AMA became involved, it appeared that the very private health information of patients would only remain private at the whim of the Minister of Health and Wellness and not the discretion and wishes of patients themselves.

In another example, Dr. Grisdale said that for over a year, the AMA has been asking both Government and Alberta Health Services to begin discussions on how Alberta's health care system can be improved. "Then ,with no consultation and no warning, we have the Minister's Advisory Committee on Health," he said.

"Creating a committee to decide what our system should look like – in just 75 days – is Mission Impossible," he continued. "Such a timetable also prompts skepticism about whether the advisory committee is merely a foil for decisions that have already been made. I know some of the individuals on that committee and I believe the 16 committee members will make their own decisions, but it is unclear what impact their report and recommendations will have on Government decisions."

Dr. Grisdale concluded by saying he does not believe Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health and Wellness have any mal-intent with the changes they may envision in months and years to come. "However," he stated," for change to be successful it is absolutely essential to create an environment where all stakeholders can buy in and embrace the change, and that means truly engaging not only physicians, but also other health care providers and patients, and not just a few random individuals selected by Government."

Contact Information

  • Alberta Medical Association
    Ronald A. Kustra, ABC
    Assistant Executive Association
    Cell: (780) 990-4271
    Alberta Medical Association
    Shannon E. Rupnarain, MBA, ABC
    Director (Public Affairs)
    Cell: (780) 907-9003