Doctor-shortage solutions elusive

I saw a news clip headlined: “Doctor shortage looming in B.C.” If it wasn’t so tragic, I would have laughed.

The shortage isn’t looming — it’s been with us for decades. I’m a GP working in two walk-in clinics after retiring from a 50-year practice in Victoria. It is nothing for me to see 50 patients in a day.

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That number is relevant because most British Colombians are unaware that the government pays only 50 per cent of the fee for the next 10 patients seen after 50, and pays nothing for any number over 60.

That’s why many walk-in clinics close early, saying they are at capacity. The clinics rely on receiving a portion of the physician’s earnings. It’s their only source of income, so if there’s no money coming in from the physicians, the clinic shuts down. There are staff salaries to be paid and office expenses to be covered.

I wrote to Health Minister Adrian Dix suggesting that with an increasing population, especially of seniors, and a decreasing number of physicians, that he consider removing the restriction as part of the doctor-shortage solution.

I was amazed at the response. I was told the government has nothing to do with the cap, and that we doctors negotiated it. I’m still looking for someone who negotiated a pay decrease.

There are solutions to the shortage of physicians in the province, but no one seems willing to try them out.

Dr. Brian S. Pound


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