Alberta cutting contract with radiologists, group representing doctors calls move ‘cruel and petty’

Alberta Health Services is terminating a contract that affects many radiologists at Calgary and Edmonton hospitals next year and the head of a group representing those who will be impacted says “the timing really couldn’t be worse.”

“This really couldn’t have been announced at a worse time and it just comes across as cruel and petty,” Dr. Robert Davies, president of the Alberta Society of Radiologists, told Global News on Monday night. “In the short-term, radiologists, like other physicians in the province, are focused on getting prepared for the COVID-19 epidemic.

“The timing of this announcement is as awful as it is unnecessary and I’m really worried about the impact on the morale and the mental health of front-line providers… it just comes across as cruel and petty.”

In an email sent earlier in the day, health ministry press secretary Steve Buick confirmed to Global News that the government has told the radiologists it will terminate the contract in a year and said the goal is to find cost savings and use those to reduce wait times for MRI and CT scans for Albertans.

“The minister (Tyler Shandro) has been closely following the growing issue of long waits for MRI and CT scans in recent months,” Buick’s email reads. “In February, when he heard reports that cancer diagnosis and care of some patients in Edmonton was being impacted, he ordered AHS to take urgent action.

“The minister followed up with a formal directive to AHS to reduce wait times for CT and MRI scans to clinically appropriate times. ”

Buick said AHS pays radiologists “far higher rates” than their counterparts receive in B.C. and Ontario.

Davies said he does not believe the fees agreed to in the contract, which he said was only signed off on in November, are the problem.

Watch below: (From Feb. 20, 2020) In this edition of Health Matters, Su-Ling Goh tells us about how Edmonton doctors are once again raising concerns about long wait times for MRIs and CT scans and also tells us about a made-in-Edmonton invention to treat heart attacks.

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