Bring back our Family Doctors and our Walk-in Clinics
Bring back our Family Doctors and our Walk-in Clinics
As residents of British Columbia, we are expressing to you our deep frustration about the ongoing exodus and shortage of family doctors in our Province and this Government’s failure to address these. We are petitioning you for an immediate response that will include an action plan to rectify this crisis.
Many individuals have been waiting for years to secure a family doctor, without success. Now, with recent news of more departures and closures on the Island and elsewhere, many more of us who were fortunate enough to have had a family doctor in our community are left without. Walk-in clinics are disappearing, and families are being abandoned in their care of the sick and the vulnerable.
The wellbeing of our families is at risk, and so is our Province. We need to be healthy to contribute to the economy and to the social and cultural life of our communities. We need to be able to give assurances to newcomers that we have the medical services they need. We need to be able to welcome tourists to our beautiful communities and take care of them while they’re here. With a growing number of communities having no family doctors or walk-in clinic, we have lost a vital piece of our “Beautiful British Columbia” fabric. Universal health care does not exist in a vacuum: if citizens cannot access medical care through family physicians, the foot soldiers of medical care, then the system is a travesty.
Forty percent of family doctors in BC are over 55. This means that within 5 to10 years, we will need to replace 40% of our family doctors, in addition to addressing the already alarming shortage of family doctors. None of these efforts even address the looming health care burden of the aging Baby Boomers, the largest demographic group yet to require health and medical services.
Family doctors who are in private practice and deal with patients in walk-in clinics do not get to set their rates or their volume of work like lawyers and other professionals do: government does. These same doctors do not get to determine their maximum revenue: government does. Is it any wonder then that these family doctors, young and old, are looking elsewhere? “Elsewhere” for some lucky ones means the government-salaried positions as family physicians in the Urgent and Primary Care Centres (“UPCCs”) in BC (also knowns as Alternative Payment Model positions). For most, it means uprooting their families in search of better opportunities outside of BC.
Universal health care is not free. We Canadian taxpayers pay for it through the various and many taxes that we pay to government. Doctors’ fees are paid with our taxes. The Government of BC is accountable to its citizens when applying these funds to ensure adequate medical services are available.
Your petitioners respectfully request that the Honourable House take action as follows:
- Provide enough family doctors and walk-in clinic options to take care of your citizens, so we don’t feel abandoned;
- Develop Urgent and Primary Care Centers that can address multi-faceted medical issues in one location and provide consistency of care. With this model, family doctors could work as salaried doctors, thereby allowing them to focus on being a doctor rather than a business owner;
- Provide increased remuneration to family doctors that is in line with what other provinces offer their private doctors, with consideration given to current cost of living in BC and annual inflation;
- Develop a Physician Master Agreement between the BC Government and Doctors of BC that will provide sufficient compensation to attract new family doctors to our province, retain the current ones, and encourage newly-trained family doctors to work in family practices.
- Remove the restrictions on family practices and expand the eligibility to transition to Alternative Pay models.
I have 2 children and a husband who have a disease-causing mutation that is currently not identified in any living person in the world - others with it have passed away. All 3 have been approved for an off-label treatment with a JAK inhibitor to reduce the effects of their mutation. The medication costs are enormous, but it is the best option available for treating their condition long-term. We have specialists in place to help treat the variety of conditions this disease causes, but for the Children they are mostly located in Vancouver at BC Children’s Hospital, and we live in Victoria. With the upcoming loss of our family doctor, we soon will have no one to coordinate the treatment plans that they prescribe. We have no one to monitor adverse reactions or to make medication adjustments. We have no one locally to monitor the children's physical well-being while on an experimental off-label treatment plan. What we know as parents, we know, but what we don’t know is what a Family Doctor is trained to identify in our children, who live with a rare disease. Without a Family Doctor to consistently assess the results of the treatment plan on my children and husband, I will be helpless to monitor any harm the treatment may be causing, until it is too late: this genetic condition could shorten my children and my husbands’ lives, if untreated or poorly monitored.
Camille and Shawn Currie