Doctors slam Tory family-care centres scheme

A proposal to build 140 family care centres in Alberta is being met with opposition from some family doctors, who argue investing in the health-care facilities would be a costly and ill-advised experiment.

Critics argue proposal to open 140 special clinics too costly, not properly studied

Alberta Progressive Conservative Leader Alison Redford greets colleagues in Strathmore, after promising to establish 140 family-care clinics in the province. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

A proposal to open 140 family care centres in Alberta is being met with opposition from some family doctors, who argue investing in the health-care facilities would be a costly and ill-advised experiment.

Critics say Premier Alison Redford's election pledge to implement the special clinics — which would be staffed by a range of health professionals including doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists and dieticians — is too rushed.

They point out that the government already has three pilot projects underway at an estimated cost of $15 million.

Among the Calgary physicians who have questioned the plan is Dr. Richard Ward, who believes the province should stick with the current system of primary care networks.

"Bringing in another layer is redundant and destroys the kind of continuity that we'e been trying o bring into our primary care networks," Ward said.

'Disservice to Albertans'

Within those networks, groups of family doctors co-ordinate referrals with other health professionals and Alberta Health Sciences. It's a model that has been working effectively, some doctors say.

At a press conference Thursday, a group of local family doctors slammed the Tory election promise.

Dr. van der Merwe said the family care centres model has not yet been properly studied.

"We are concerned that the proposal to create a new, redundant, unproven, poorly conceived structure — the family care clinic — will do a disservice to Albertans," he told reporters.

Last week, the Alberta Medical Association, which represents the province's 7,200 doctors, also blasted the scheme. However, some nurse practitioners have voice support for the concept.