The government and the AMA have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on actions to better support physicians practising comprehensive primary health care. Comprehensive primary health care refers to a patient with regular access to primary care providers who ensure all their health care needs are met.
“Every Albertan deserves access to high-quality primary health care. Right now, many Albertans can’t find a family doctor or get an appointment with the one they have. We are fully committed to taking action to stabilize and improve Alberta’s health care system, and I look forward to working with the Alberta Medical Association to achieve this goal and establish primary health care as the foundation of the entire health care system.”
“This MOU is an express commitment to real stabilization and investment into family medicine and rural generalists with a firm deadline of the next provincial budget. We will work collaboratively with Minister LaGrange for meaningful action to ensure the viability of family medicine and rural practices across our province. Our family medicine specialists are the foundation of primary care, and I am relieved that government will heed their pleas for action.”
The MOU includes collaborating on the development and transition to a new family physician compensation model, finding ways to alleviate the administrative burden on family physicians, modernizing primary care governance, supporting family doctors to spend more time with patients, and identifying other short-term actions that can stabilize primary health care. Work to fulfil the MOU will begin immediately so it can inform the government’s budget 2024 planning process.
As part of the government’s Oct. 18 announcement detailing immediate actions it is taking to improve primary health care, a task force was introduced to develop a new payment model for family physicians. The work of this task force will run in parallel with the MOU as a complement to foster comprehensive primary care. To ensure ongoing communication with the minister, the task force has been directed to provide interim reports to the minister’s office by January and a final report by March.
In addition to the MOU, other commitments announced on Oct. 18 that will support primary care providers include:
- Creating a primary health care division within Alberta Health.
- Allocating $57 million over three years to provide family doctors and nurse practitioners with support to help manage their increasing number of patients. Each provider has the potential to receive up to $10,000 annually. This is an initial step towards stabilizing the system and supporting their growing patient load.
- Strengthening health care: Improving access for all
- Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System
- Strategic Advisory Panel final report
- Indigenous Panel final report