Acute care video. Leaders needed

May 24, 2024

Dr. Paul Parks, AMA President

Dear Members,

Acute care: Please watch the video.

Call it: an aneurysm ready to burst; a perfect storm; a house of cards. No matter how you describe it, the acute care system is in desperate trouble. That was the subject of our latest Inside Scoop virtual town hall on May 22 with over 250 acute care, hospital and community-based specialists.
Current conditions are combining and driving physicians out of hospitals or causing them to change their practice patterns. Colleagues are no longer confident they can continue to deliver the care they have been trained to provide. Patient access to their services is steadily worsening.
Health human resource shortages are at the heart of most concerns we heard: delaying testing, procedures; consultations; and treatment. We lack the extender teams – surgical assistants, nurses, pharmacists and more – who keep the system moving. There are not enough hospital beds for our burgeoning population, even as we acknowledge we currently lack the people to staff those beds. Patients linger in hospital instead of appropriate alternative levels of care spaces, slowing or stalling patient flow through the hospitals.
Remuneration and payment policy can make a powerful difference for patient care. I’ve mentioned our Acute Care Stabilization Proposal numerous times. The town hall video (member login required) includes a concise summary that I encourage you to watch. 
For these and other solutions addressing system capacity, we advocate – loudly. We will push for what is needed to restore patient access to the care they need. Last week, through our Acute Care Concerns series, we began our feature spotlight on cancer care. Next in line are general surgery, general internal medicine and obstetrics and gynecology as prioritized by the Joint Physician Advocacy Committee and the Specialty Care Alliance. To bring other specialties forward for the advocacy lineup, please email We will follow up with you.

Experts needed for system reorganization

Government is reorganizing Alberta Health Services and the health system into four provincial health agencies: primary care; acute care; continuing care; and mental health and addictions. An AMA-Alberta Health working table has been formed, “to generate advice for the Minister of Health on issues and solutions,” from the physician perspective.

To allow a few early meetings to occur, representatives from the AMA Board of Directors have attended. As we promised when this group was announced in November, it has been our intention, at the appropriate time, to replace these interim appointments with physician leader expertise in the four sectors. Legislation has been tabled to enable formation of the agencies. The call for applications to serve on the committee is now open. Learn more (member login required) about the Health System Refocus Working Table and apply if you think you are right for the opportunity. We need the insight that our physician leader experts can provide.


Paul Parks
President, Alberta Medical Association

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