Lethbridge lost 23 more doctors since last Sept

The number of registered physicians in Lethbridge is at its lowest level since 2017.

Recently, I wrote a news story about the number of registered physicians in Alberta.

I decided to go through the physician registrations from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to see what information I could find about doctors in the region specifically, rather than the province as a whole.

First, here’s the number of registrations per year for each of the health zones since 2016. Keep in mind that the 2022 numbers are for just three quarters, and they may change throughout the rest of the year.

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There’s some interesting data in there.

Every health zone saw a drop in the number of registered physicians in that zone. Not only that, but total registrations in the South Zone is at its second lowest level compared to the previous 6 years.

For that matter, Calgary’s are at their second lowest, Central is at its lowest, Edmonton is at their second lowest, and North is at its lowest, by far.

Now, let’s look at Lethbridge physicians specifically. Below is the number of registrations for each quarter since 2016, as well as the quarter-over-quarter percent change.

QuarterRegistrations% change
2022 Q3274-1.44%
2022 Q22780.72%
2022 Q1276-4.50%
2021 Q4289-2.69%
2021 Q32971.71%
2021 Q2292-0.34%
2021 Q1293-2.98%
2020 Q4302-2.58%
2020 Q33105.44%
2020 Q22941.03%
2020 Q1291-7.91%
2019 Q43162.60%
2019 Q33084.76%
2019 Q22941.03%
2019 Q1291-0.34%
2018 Q42922.46%
2018 Q32851.42%
2018 Q22811.81%
2018 Q1276-2.13%
2017 Q4282-1.05%
2017 Q32854.01%
2017 Q22740.74%
2017 Q12720.74%
2016 Q42701.12%
2016 Q32672.30%
2016 Q22610.38%
2016 Q1260-0.01%

Here it is in graph form.

First, the total number of registrations.

We see that more or less, physician registrations in Lethbridge had been rising for about 4 years, hitting their peak in the final quarter of 2019. Over the past couple of years or so, the numbers have been dropping. There was a bit of a surge during the start of the pandemic, but the last 8 quarters have completely wiped out those gains.

Not only that, but physician registrations are now at one of their lowest levels since the 2nd quarter of 2017, when they were at 274.

Keep in mind that the population of Lethbridge has increased during that time, which means we have three more registered physicians for more people.

At the end of 2017 (just before the first quarter of 2018), Lethbridge had a population of 96,515. That means 1 doctor for every 350.96 people.

By comparison, there were 101,799 people living in Lethbridge by the end of 2021, just before the first quarter of 2022. The ratio of physicians to people has jumped to 1 for ever 371.53 people. And that’s assuming no more people moved here in the last 9 months.

In other words, each doctor is theoretically responsible for an extra 20 people.

Next, the % change from quarter to quarter.

Looking at the data this way shows us some interesting information.

First, of the 14 quarters that the UCP government have been in power, 7 of them had negative growth. Not only that, but 5 of them were larger decreases than the other 4 periods of decreases in the previous 3 years.

In fact, in the first quarter of 2020—the start of the COVID-19 pandemic—Lethbridge saw its largest single decrease in physician registrations during this 5-year period.

Lethbridge lost 25 physician registrations as the pandemic was starting. That’s 1 in 13 physicians.

If we average all the increases and decreases since the UCP took office, we see a net decrease of 5.14%, which works out to a loss of 1 registration every quarter, on average.

Over the last 4 quarter, Lethbridge saw only 1 quarter with an increase in registrations, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the losses in the other 3. If we add them all up, Lethbridge averaged 7.91% fewer registrations per quarter last year.

Let’s compare the third quarter of 2022 with previous third quarters.

The third quarter of 2022 saw the largest year-over-year decrease in the number of registered physicians.

Not only that, this shows that third quarter registrations have worsened every year in Lethbridge for the past 3 years.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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