Keynote Address at Alberta Medical Association’s Primary Care Summit

EDMONTON – More than 100 physicians and patients gathered Saturday to discuss the future of primary care in Alberta, even as the provincial government’s promise of 140 new family-care clinics remains murky.

The event in downtown Edmonton is the first of five planned meetings on primary care – usually the first line of care for patients entering the health system – the Alberta Medical Association has planned around the province in coming months.

“If we get primary care right, the rest of the health-care system will be easier to get correct,” said Dr. Michael Giuffre, AMA president and a pediatric cardiologist in Calgary. “But until we do that right, we have a major problem.”

Patients and physicians brainstormed about the delivery of primary care, while the proposed family-care clinics were the focus of physician-only discussions. Doctors have not been consulted about the family-care clinic proposal, which has become a thorny issue between them and Premier Alison Redford’s government. According to the AMA, 85 per cent of the province’s family doctors currently work out of primary care networks (PCNs), which offer front-line health services from a multi-disciplinary team led by physicians.