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Doctors in at least 44 rural Alberta communities to reduce services: survey

A doctor wears a stethoscope around his neck as he tends to patients in his office in Illinois on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jeff Roberson

A group made up of rural doctors says 44 Alberta communities will be directly affected by recent government changes to the way doctors can bill for service.

The Rural Sustainability Group says it was created to draw attention to what it calls an impending health-care crisis in Alberta's rural communities.

It says it has surveyed more than 300 physicians across the province.

Dr. Samantha Myhr, who practices in Pincher Creek, says the survey has determined at least 44 communities will be affected by the billing changes in some way by the end of July.

That includes three communities — Sundre, Stettler and Lac la Biche — that have already been told some of their doctors will be withdrawing emergency and obstetric services in hospitals.

Myhr says doctors in another 41 rural communities will be informing their patients this week that they are also making changes to some of their services.

The group is asking the government to reverse the changes until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

They would also like to see the province get back to the bargaining table with the Alberta Medical Association to consider the "unique needs" of rural communities.

A spokesman for Alberta Health has said they will replace any doctors who leave and ensure access is maintained in those communities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 20, 2020

The Canadian Press

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