Calgary doctor cites intimidation over emails

The president of the Calgary and Area Physicians Association says doctors in Alberta are working in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

The head of a Calgary physicians' group says health-care workers need to be able to speak out

Psychiatrist Dr. Lloyd Maybaum, president of the Calgary and Area Physicians Association, said he was reprimanded for circulating an email to raise support for mental health services at a new Calgary hospital. (CBC)

The president of the Calgary and Area Physicians Association says doctors in Alberta are working in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

Dr. Lloyd Maybaum said he wrote some internal emails to colleagues in 2008 to try to save the psychiatric treatment wing at a new south Calgary hospital.

Someone leaked one of the emails to the media.

Maybaum said he then received a letter from a health executive accusing him of making inflammatory and inaccurate statements.

He was told he would be removed from the planning committee of the hospital if he continued making such statements, Maybaum said Friday.

"It clearly spelled out that you're in a conflict of interest, you shouldn't be sending out any of these emails without them being ratified ... [and that] you'll be removed from the position if you continue," he said. 

He stopped sending out emails after that.

When Maybaum attended an Alberta Medical Association last weekend, he said he heard from several doctors who are afraid to speak out about health-care issues.

He said he was still getting calls expressing similar sentiments this week.

"By and large they're all fearful," Maybaum said. "And so this problem is real and it's tangible and anyone that suggests that it isn't is completely out of touch and out of tune with health-care workers."

The Health Quality Council of Alberta is conducting a review of emergency and cancer care wait times.

Allegations have been made by independent MLA Raj Sherman that doctors were told to keep quiet about the number of people dying while waiting for treatment.

Maybaum said the AMA has established its own committee to look at ways to improve the situation.

The Alberta Liberal Party has said health-care workers are too scared to come forward and that demands for a public inquiry have gone nowhere.

"The government continues to ignore the evidence that the health-care system is in crisis," said Liberal Leader David Swann.

Alberta Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky said a Health Quality Council review of emergency and cancer-care wait times would be faster than a public inquiry. (CBC)
The Stelmach government said the review done by the Health Quality Council would be better than a public inquiry because it would  get answers faster.

"We have an independent review … that is being done by one of the most credible organizations on health in our province. They have set their own terms of reference, they will be choosing a panel of experts to both advise and another panel … to actually perform this review," said Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky.

"And they're going to comment on it in three months, in six months, and have it done and over in nine months."

Maybaum said he feels it's his duty to tell his story.

"If I don't go forward, I'm contributing to the problem," he said. "Physicians and all health-care workers need to be able to come forward."