Temporary Strategy to Bring in On-Call Doctors

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The Northern Lights Health Region, the Alberta Medical Association and the Alberta government have agreed to a specialized workforce plan in Fort McMurray to help relieve some of the pressure on the local health system.

"In order to help ensure adequate access to a doctor, immediate action was needed. This plan will provide support to local doctors who have been working so hard to provide quality care to residents," said Dave Hancock, Minister of Health and Wellness.

Under the plan, available physicians from other parts of the province will assist local physicians in providing on-call physician services at the local hospital to residents without a family doctor. Previously, local doctors alone had been filling this role in addition to their work at their individual practices.

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"It is no secret that there is a workforce shortage in health care, not just in Fort McMurray but across the country," said Hancock, "With the cooperation of the health region and the doctors, we have been able to find a temporary solution that helps ensure that patients get the care they need. I am very aware that we need a more permanent solution and I continue to explore options to find one."

"A lot of credit for finalizing this agreement has to go to the collaborative efforts of the Alberta Medical Association, the Regional Health Authorities as well as government staff," added Hancock.

The plan provides doctors coming to Fort McMurray with a daily stipend, in addition to their travel and accommodation expenses, to help offset the expense of time away from their own practice. Local family physicians providing on-call services at the hospital will receive an increase to the daily stipend in recognition of the challenges inherent to caring for their patients on an ongoing basis while providing quality medical care to those admitted to hospital.

To support the development of long-term solutions, the Northern Lights Health Region Board and the Minister have agreed to establish a transition team to assist in determining long-term options for the reorganization of service delivery in the region, including primary care. The team will be established as soon as possible and will report jointly to the Minister and Board Chair.

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