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Emergency room doctors pen letter outlining health-care crisis in Alberta

Up to 15 hours waiting to see a doctor.

Forty or more people in the ER waiting room.

Elderly patients waiting on stretchers in hallways.

Sections closed because there aren’t enough staff.

These are some of the issues being called out by a group of 190 physicians who released an open letter Wednesday, calling on the province for immediate help.

The letter goes on to say the problem has three underlying causes: a lack of access to family doctors; a lack of hospital beds; and health-care labour shortages.

The doctors say as many as 650,000 Albertans are without a family doctor and relief seems unlikely – saying 42 residency training spaces in family medicine were unfilled last year.

B.C. had two unfilled spaces, Saskatchewan had zero, according to the letter.

The physicians say that overcrowding in hospitals is a complex problem, but point to a lack of long term care spaces as causing a significant backlog – claiming that an average of 25 per cent of emergency department beds are being occupied by emergency in-patients, creating further backlogs.

The physicians say that emergency and specialty nurses have moved to part-time hours, left the province or left the profession after the grind of the pandemic.

During that time, they were sometimes mandated to work additional overtime, routinely had vacation requests denied and often took the brunt of frustrated patients’ anger over long waits.

Meanwhile, the province was also suggesting cutting nurses' pay. Top Stories

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