Advocacy group supports review of primary care networks


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August 11, 2015 8:15 AM

Friends of Medicare (FoM) are supporting a decision by the Alberta government to do the first financial review of the province’s primary care networks (PCNs). The PCNs were set up as a trilateral agreement between Alberta Health, the Alberta Medical Association and Alberta Health Services to provide multi-disciplinary services to communities across the province, but have had little to no financial oversight since being established.

“There have been no reviews or evaluations done because there has been no political will to actually do them,” said Sandra Azocar, executive director of FoM.“It was a major social policy in terms of providing primary care because at that time the government was kicking around the PCN model, and then family care clinic model, but there was never any formalized way of assessing the outcomes and then seeing how successful or unsuccessful they were being after they started.”

Azocar says PCNs are set up and governed differently than regular everyday doctors offices and are designed to offer services based on different demographics. Some are set up to address specific illnesses, neighbourhoods and populations depending on the needs of the areas, so every PCN is governed differently.

“They all have different governance models and different setups and they meet the individual needs of where they’re being set up. The whole idea was quite good in terms of what kinds of services they were expected to be providing,” Azocar said.

“Some of them are governed by a board of the doctors who are actually part of the corporation. Some of them are governed by an outside board. So again, how much money is actually going into the frontline service delivery or how much is going into the governance? Those are all of the questions that need to be looked at when going into this review.”

It hasn’t been confirmed who will carry out the review, but Azocar says that PCN doctors are calling for an outside auditor to complete the task.

FoM is also calling for the report to be made public once it’s completed and Azocar thinks it will be done before the Alberta budget is announced because the review will be paid for by government and would therefore impact funding.

FoM is a non-profit advocacy organization founded in 1979 that seeks to promote the protection expansion of the public health-care system.

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