Parents need help; Alberta Cancer Care docs vote

June 1, 2022

Dr. Vesta Michelle Warren

Dear Members,

Parents need help

Pediatric mental health has emerged as one of the primary concerns of the current care deficit. As colleagues who care for children tell us, these patients are distressed. Adding to that toll are the families and friends of unwell children who are their support networks, themselves dragged into stress, anxiety and ill health by the burden of caregiving.

To better understand what parents are going through, we turned to our online research community albertapatients.ca. Over 700 Alberta parents/guardians participated. Here is a news story on this issue. Results show:

  • 65% of parents say a child in their care has suffered deterioration in mental health from the pandemic.
  • Negative mental health consequences of pandemic response are directly related to, and increase with, a child’s age.
  • 72% of parents say the overall quality of Alberta’s health care system in meeting their child’s needs is “bad” compared to only 16% who feel the system is doing at least a “good” job.

The full results are well worth reading. These numbers show a pediatric mental health system that is falling short, despite the tremendous efforts of physicians and our health care teammates to provide the care and services these children deserve. Focused attention, with all our system partners, is required to work toward the solutions recommended in the pediatric mental health issue paper.  

If you encounter patients or families waiting for pediatric or any sort of care, please refer them to the short survey at PatientsFirst.ca. We need to compile their experiences to better understand the care deficit and advocate for improvements with our system partners.

Cancer Care Alberta physicians

This past Friday, May 27, Cancer Care Alberta (CCA) physicians ratified an agreement between the AMA (representing CCA physicians) and Alberta Health Services, effective July 1, 2021. During the voting period, 60.6% of eligible CCA physicians cast a ballot and of those voting, 62.8% voted yes and 37.2% voted no. 

While I understand it took several years for the negotiating team to reach this agreement and that there were many pros and cons to consider, I think the eventual outcome represents successful work by the two negotiating teams to affirm a strengthened relationship with AHS and Cancer Care Physicians who share significant common interests regarding the provision of cancer care services for Albertans. This successful ratification demonstrates that it is possible to make progress – even when times are difficult. I was pleased to learn the results of the vote as installing this Agreement will bring some much-needed stability to CCA physicians and the patients and families they serve. 

You will hear from me again very soon. You can reach me any time in the following ways:

  • Communicate with me privately and directly by email if you would like a reply: president@albertadoctors.org.
  • Comment publicly on this President’s Letter (please be aware that comments are public, i.e., not members-only, even if you are logged in as a member). 

Sincerely,

Vesta Michelle Warren, MD, CCFP, FCFP
President, Alberta Medical Association

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