Family medicine in Lethbridge was the first item on the agenda of the city’s social and cultural policy committee this week.

The main message: Lethbridge has few doctors.

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Representatives from Alberta Health Services and the Chinook Primary Care Network detailed how the area needs between 20 and 30 doctors.

This is not a new problem, as many residents struggle for quite some time to find and keep a GP.

The Chinook PCN said in 2017 it had 144 family physicians, leaving approximately 14,000 residents without a designated physician.

The Chinook PCN said it projects for this month the number of physicians to be 129, leaving nearly 46,000 patients in Lethbridge and surrounding communities without an attending physician.

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There are also no family physicians currently in Lethbridge with room to accept new patients.

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Lethbridge doctor shortage

Recruitment attempts are actively underway, but only one trained family doctor has been found in Canada so far as the area is in the process of adding between four and nine international graduates.

AHS said that if there aren’t enough family doctors, more patients end up in the emergency department, supporting critical service and adding an additional workload to those doctors.

Committee members heard that a joint effort will be needed to help recruit and retain physicians. Promoting the area and making it an attractive place to practice will help achieve those goals, as well as bringing together stakeholders to help work on this growing community concern.

The committee unanimously passed a resolution asking the city manager to continue developing an action plan to bring it to the city council.

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Reference-globalnews.ca

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