Acute care, we are acting for you!

December 11, 2023

Dr. Paul Parks, AMA President

Dear Members,

AMA members are fully behind our fierce advocacy for primary care and our efforts to save and support family physician and rural generalist clinics. Everyone agrees the system has no future without this foundation.

That being said, colleagues in acute, hospital and community specialist care tell me every day: “Yes, fight for primary care, but don’t forget we have major access issues, too.” I’ve mentioned in previous letters that the AMA is calling for the stabilization of the acute care sector. Simply put, there is a confluence of factors that are driving physicians out of hospitals, and this is negatively affecting Albertans’ access to timely, acute care. We tabled a proposal with government last week to reverse this trend.

We are calling for reduced emergency department and surgical wait times. We must improve patient flow and outcomes. Our hospital wards are struggling with maximal overcapacity volumes and depleted allied health care worker support. We require more after-hours care. We need better admission and discharge management – with adequately staffed teams to carry out these plans. We must take the steps necessary to fairly ensure the availability of specialists who keep acute and hospital care running 24/7/365.

All this is happening as respiratory virus season is surging and we are again seeing Access Block, delayed surgeries and hospitals at overcapacity, e.g., wards designed and staffed for 30 patients handling 45 complex and very ill patients. These symptoms of disease in acute care are back again because long-standing issues have not been addressed.

We have discussed with government what is urgently required to retain physicians in acute care, including four key actions:

  • Match alternative relationship plan rates to current fee-for-service billing in Alberta.
  • Incent after-hours care.
  • Provide competitive rates for physician availability.
  • Address and remove further compensation reductions.

We are urgently advocating for the stabilization of our acute care hospitals concurrently with stabilization and investment into our community family medicine specialty practices. These investments have been deferred for far too long and can no longer safely be ignored.

Updates and details on all this to come. As mentioned last week, you can monitor our Key Issues Tracker (member login required) for updates on the key activities currently underway or sign up for alerts at

Local Doctors, Local Issues … the conversations continue

I’ve appreciated the time that physicians have given to share their stories and experiences with me in recent weeks. I’ve recorded a few of these conversations over Zoom that we’ve turned into three-minute videos. Here are two that you will find interesting: Calgary’s Dr. Donald Culos of emergency medicine and Edmonton rheumatologist Dr. Christopher Lydell. I will continue to connect and have these candid conversations with our colleagues.


Paul Parks
President, Alberta Medical Association

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