CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Nov. 20, 2012) - This morning Alberta Medical Association (AMA) President Dr. R. Michael Giuffre released a letter to Minister of Health Fred Horne, calling on government to return to the negotiating table to complete an agreement with Alberta's physicians. "We are taking this step because these negotiations have gone on too long," explained Dr. Giuffre from his pediatric medical clinic in Calgary. "The minister has tried to impose a settlement upon physicians rather than take appropriate steps to reach a solution. We recognize that these negotiations are complex and difficult. It's a big health care system. If the minister feels we are at an impasse, then why not use dispute resolution tools that work everywhere else? We have asked him to do so repeatedly and said we would be willing to live by the findings of an arbitrator."
The lengthy negotiations and government's recent imposition are taking energy that could be better applied to making the health care system better for patients. "We need a good working relationship between government and physicians," said Dr. Giuffre. "The stakes are too high for anything else."
He noted that the minister's decision to impose a settlement is particularly unsatisfactory, given what this health care system has gone through in recent years. "Morale in the medical profession is low - as Alberta Health Services surveys demonstrate. There have been claims of physician intimidation that have been proven by the Health Quality Council of Alberta. Primary care reform through family care clinics (FCCs) is occurring in the dark, away from the input of physicians and others. This imposition affects thousands of physicians, thousands more physician-office employees and millions of patients."
"We have had a tremendous, disappointed but extremely unified response from AMA members about the government's imposition," he concluded. "That's why I have written to the minister today and we look forward to his response."
The AMA's letter requests a return to negotiations and calls on government to do the following:
- Rescind the imposition and its contents and agree to deal with all issues relating to the agreement as outlined in the minister's letter to the AMA on November 16, 2012.
- Ensure both parties are committed to finding a solution expediently by setting a deadline of December 31, 2012 to complete a new agreement, ready to share with the Alberta Medical Association membership for a ratification vote.
- Should a new agreement not be ready by that date, either party will be able to submit the outstanding matters to a fair dispute resolution process agreed to by both parties.
The AMA represents over 11,000 physicians, medical residents and medical students. With the vision of Patients First®, the AMA stands as an advocate organization to provide leadership and support for the physician's role in the provision of quality health care.
Patients First® is a registered trademark of the Alberta Medical Association
To view the letter, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/1120ama2.pdf.
To request an interview, please contact Shannon Rupnarain.