May 20th, 2024

MLA Phillips calling on government to address city’s doctor shortage

By Al Beeber on November 10, 2021.

Herald photo by Al Beeber - MLA for Lethbridge West Shannon Phillips speaks Wednesday at the Galt Museum & Archives about the Lethbridge doctor shortage.


Just over a month after she released a four-point plan calling on the provincial government to address the doctor shortage in Lethbridge, NDP MLA for Lethbridge West Shannon Phillips says no action has been taken.
She was joined for a press conference at the Galt Museum & Archives by a new resident of Lethbridge who has found herself without a family physician.
“Just over a month ago, I called on the new UCP Health Minister Jason Copping to present a plan to respond to the emerging health care crisis in Lethbridge. I just don’t mean the COVID-19 crisis that has been entirely of the incompetent UCP’s own doing, I mean the crisis in accessible primary healthcare due to the emergent lack of physicians in this area. We have truly gone into the world where we have an emergency health care crisis in Lethbridge right now,” said Phillips.
“A month ago, I said to the minister we need to have a plan within 30 days,” she recalled.
“That is a reasonable timeframe given the depth of the crisis that we are now facing in primary care in southern Alberta. When 30,000 people don’t have access to primary care, 30 days to come back with a plan to move forward I believe is reasonable,” said Phillips.
That time frame has come and gone with no action with action from Copping and the UCP, Phillips said at the presser which was attended in person only by The Herald.
Last week, the NDP health critic David Shepherd and Phillips sent a letter to Copping following up on their request for a plan but they’ve gotten no response, said Phillips.
“Lethbridge has the largest decline in physicians among major communities in Alberta. Currently, one-third of people who live in this city do not have access to a primary physician. This problem is about to get much worse; the Bigelow Fowler clinic in south Lethbridge closes in just 21 days,” she said.
“Without access to a family doctor, Albertans must seek care in our emergency rooms and now people can’t even get basic diagnostic work done because even if you are getting routine blood work, if you don’t have a family physician, there’s nowhere to send the results,” Phillips added.
She said the UCP has provided excuses and “nonsensical explanations” about the doctor shortage, she said.
“What the UCP are failing to recognize, and that that they have had the biggest hand in creating, is that there’s no one to replace these physicians because Jason Kenney and the UCP cabinet have attacked doctors and frontline healthcare workers since stepping into office. And they’ve made, over the course of the pandemic, Alberta an increasingly undesirable place to practise medicine and also to work as a frontline health care provider.”
Kira McLean, a software developer who moved here recently, said she had to attend Cardston hospital to have an ear problem addressed since the city has no walk-in clinics and only one clinic that will see non-regular patients. Her problem was fixed in 10 minutes, she said.
“There is not a single clinic” in the city taking new patients, she said, adding it’s not a reasonable solution for Lethbridge residents to seek health care outside of the city.
Not everyone has time for a two-hour round trip to a place like Cardston or necessarily the means to travel out of town for health care, she said.
Phillips in September wanted the UCP to launch a targeted short-term physician recruitment plan for the city and a longer-term plan tailored to smaller cities that would bring 900 more physicians to Alberta.
She also called for the rollout of a community vaccination plan to relieve stress on the health care system and asked for more detailed local reporting of COVID-19 data.
Not having access to basic services “means Albertans are going to start to look elsewhere and it will make it harder to attract people to come to live here,” said Phillips.
“Whether you’re in the southwest corner or the northeast corner, this is far beyond a health care issue; this is moving into an economic and social issue as well. It is the UCP cabinet’s responsibility to fix this.
“The clock is ticking; we are facing a crisis that is about to get much much worse and we have not yet had an appropriate and thoughtful policy response from the UCP cabinet,” added Phillips.

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Dennis Bremner

Its not like you can mix up some ingredients and poof, you have a Doctor, although thats what Ms Phillips would like you to think. Phillips still will not accept the problem of a shortage of Doctors as being her’s not the UCP.
Out of the 14 Doctors that left Lethbridge over the last 18 months only one was traced to “Leaving the Province” the rest retired or went elsewhere in Alberta!
So why did they leave? Well its actually quite easy to sort that out! They lived near the Hospital between the Hospital and Downtown and when Phillips decided to bless us with an SCS which garnered every addict for 50 miles in all directions, they started sleeping in the Doctors local parks (London Road Park) they started stealing from his/her backyard and breaking into their cars!
So they looked at Phillips propensity to stuff everything she could into their neighborhood and decided they should leave while the leaving was good.
So when the NDP takes over from the UCP it will be interesting when I DEMAND a plan from Phillips for Doctors ! Why? because at the same time she will of course attempt to create a Multi Building Campus to treat addicts which will make the area where Doctors Live, even WORSE!
Can’t wait to hold your feet to the same fire you are creating for the UCP, Shannon! You know whose fault this is but continue to deflect, so far its working but eventually people will get it!

Last edited 2 years ago by Dennis Bremner