AFL Reminds College of Physicians Of Its Duty to the Public Interest

The AFL is reminding the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons that it has an overarching responsibility to the public when considering proposed guidelines allowing overnight stays in health facilities.

The Council of the College is meeting on Friday to decide whether to implement guidelines for "long stay non-hospital surgical facilities" which would allow procedures requiring overnight stay to be performed in private, for-profit facilities.

"The College's primary duty is to ensure the public interest is protected in matters relating to doctors and health facilities," says Audrey Cormack, President of the AFL. "If they approve the proposed guidelines, it will permit private, for-profit hospitals in Alberta, which are clearly not in the public interest."

Cormack points out that time after time, the Alberta public has loudly proclaimed its opposition to private, for-profit hospitals. "Whether it be Bill 37, or College guidelines, Albertans have been clear - they don't want for-profit hospitals."

"I don't care what you call it, if it does overnight stays, it is a hospital," says Cormack. "Finding some bureaucratic title doesn't change its functions."

"The future of Medicare is an inherently political matter and the College should not be meddling in politics," adds Cormack.

Cormack also takes aim at the Health Minister for trying to blame opponents of Bill 37 for the situation. "If the minister is so concerned about Medicare, why doesn't he just pass a law banning private, for-profit hospitals? That would solve the problem in one stroke."

Cormack states that the Minister is trying to get the College to do his dirty work. "The College shouldn't be bullied by the Health Minister into making a bad decision. Instead they should be listening to the concerns of Albertans," adds Cormack.

The legislation governing the College stipulates that as a body it must protect the public interest when fulfilling its mandate. Allowing private, for-profit hospitals undermines the fabric of Medicare and establishes a path toward two-tier health care. International studies have demonstrated that two-tier health care and private, for-profit hospitals provide less adequate care for the majority of the population.

"Friday's decision is not about boring technical guidelines. It is fundamentally about whether our health system is here to benefit the public interest or just the interest of a private few with connections and capital." Cormack concluded.

For more information call:

Audery Cormack, AFL President: 483-3021 (wk) 499-6530 (cell) 428-9367 (home)

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