Alberta premier Alison Redford during an editorial board meeting at the Edmonton Sun in Edmonton on Thursday April 12, 2012
Credits: OM BRAID/EDMONTON SUN/QMI AGENCY
The family docs say the proposed clinics would upset significant progress already being made with patient care networks.
Dr. Rick Ward said a medical system already struggling with dramatic change brought on by such things as the amalgamation of the province's health districts makes the latest proposal unwelcome.
"There's change fatigue," he said, adding his opposition is not about guarding physician turf.
"Any time there's a threat to the kind of care we're providing to patients, we have to stand up and say, ‘This is a bad idea.'"
Earlier this week, Premier Alison Redford rolled out a plan to create 140 family care clinics (FCCs) to be staffed by a team of health-care providers, including nurses, social workers, mental health counsellors, psychologists and family physicians, to meet local primary health care needs.
Calgary's Dr. Phillip van der Merwe said that model already exists with a patient care network he and his colleagues have been nurturing for the past nine years.
"We are concerned that the proposal to create a new, redundant, unproven and poorly-conceived model will do a disservice to Albertans," he said.
The doctor said their current network's funding of $62 per patient would balloon to eight times that much under the proposed FCCs, though the Tories haven't provided a full accounting for it.
On Monday, Redford said the Alberta College of Family Physicians (ACFP) was supportive of the plan, but a letter from the body sent to its members Thursday voiced concerns over a push to go well beyond the current three-site pilot project.
"The ACFP is disappointed with the communication surrounding this election promise and more specifically, was falsely reported as being supportive of the expansion," wrote college President Dr. Cathy Scrimshaw.
The Calgary doctors also said they've been offered little chance for input on the scheme.
When asked about the Wildrose pledge to publicly fund more private health care providers if wait-time goals aren't met, Dr. Thomas Tam wouldn't dismiss it.
"To some degree, we already have private health care and any additional methods to increase services to our patients, I'd be willing to look at it," he said.
Health Minister Fred Horne said the FCC's would assist the current patient system.
"The patient care networks are doing a good job but we need to enhance that further -- we need to make more clinics available," he said.
"This isn't about replacing, it's about complementing."