Doctor shortage: BC group proposes ‘overnight’ solution to crisis

A new advocacy group of GPs in BC is coming forward to say the primary care crisis in the province is not the result of a shortage of doctors, but a matter of priorities and compensation that could change pretty much overnight. dissolved.

GPs for better patient care in BC propose a five-point plan to improve primary care, with the first and fastest action with the greatest impact being to pay GPs for the time they actually spend with patients – a step that wouldn’t require a drastic review of the system.

BC currently pays them per visit regardless of how much time they spend with a patient, often leading to rushed appointments or doctors earning significantly less than their hospital counterparts. In Alberta, GPs are paid on the fee-for-service model, but with “time modifiers” that allow them to bill the province when they need to spend more time with a patient.

There, primary care practices are thriving, with hundreds of doctors currently taking on new patients.

“It’s a very sensible solution to a problem that can be addressed relatively quickly,” said Dr. Carllin Man, a primary care physician in New Westminster who also works as a deputy in Alberta. “I know many (BC) doctors who have spent countless hours seeing their patients and caring for them and they are not valued for it by our government in our current system of reimbursement for services.”

The document his group presented to MLAs in Victoria last week points out that BC has a high doctor-to-patient ratio compared to other counties and that only 8.8 percent of doctors trained in family medicine need to return. to the doctor’s office to solve the problems. access problem; many currently work in hospitals where they earn significantly more income without the burden of running a business.

“(Health Secretary) Adrian Dix could do this almost overnight,” said GP Erin Carlson. “It would ensure that more doctors here work as GPs instead of doing other work and that would help solve the crisis.”

She points out that when doctors’ offices were closed due to the pandemic and patients largely only had virtual access to care, the provincial government was quick to adapt the system so that GPs could bill telecare at the same level as in-person visits.

“Solutions we can put in place now to turn this crisis around in the blink of an eye,” Carlson insisted.


After an eyebrow-raising misstep by the health minister that further damaged an already deteriorating relationship with doctors when he suggested nurses provide better care, the prime minister is now directly involved in the situation.

“It’s a crisis,” John Horgan acknowledged last week, as doctors and patients gathered in the legislature to demand solutions.

He also revealed to reporters that when he met with the Doctors of BC earlier this week, he viewed it as a “reset” of their relationship and an opportunity to move forward, but warned that real progress could only happen if the federal government demands from the prime ministers of canada for more funding for health care.

“Over the past few decades, the federal component of health care delivery has gone from about 50 percent to less than 25 percent — that’s had a huge impact on the government’s ability to provide services, which is our responsibility,” Horgan said. , insisting that multiple payment models and financing options are on the table.

“We can’t do that without an infusion of cash. the federal government is starting to give in to that and I am hopeful that we can have a new vision of healthcare in the 21st century with a federal government that participates fully in the delivery of these services by funding them appropriately.”


With an estimated one million British Columbians without a GP, much is at stake for those seeking a long-term relationship with a healthcare provider who can resolve their problems before they become serious enough to require urgent or emergency care.

But even those with primary care physicians usually wait several weeks to see them, and a few go to great lengths to keep the one they have.

“I’m going back to Vancouver,” resident Victoria said Stefani Cameron, who depends on friends to find housing on the mainland. “I don’t feel like it’s an option. What other choice do I have?’

She has traveled the world and worked abroad for over four years. Her experience with multiple health systems has left her particularly frustrated with the lack of innovation and flexibility of policy makers to adapt to changing challenges and issues in BC’s system.

“I think it’s a lack of intelligence, a lack of perspective, a lack of worldliness, a lack of experience, a lack of creativity,” Cameron said. “There is a lot of lack of attitude at the moment that the provincial government has about medical.”

While patients struggle, doctors spend many hours of paperwork and administrative effort to keep their doors open—and increasingly find it unworthy.

“We really need to change the system now to stop the bleeding of GPs leaving the practice,” Man said.

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