Everyone Deserves a Family Doctor
There are 900,000 British Columbians without a Family Doctor, walk in clinics closing throughout our province and longitudinal care family physicians retiring, or choosing to work in other clinical areas. Despite the well-intended efforts of our current government, the crisis we are facing is only continuing to intensify, with an increasing number of British Columbians going without regular care, or turning to emergency rooms for issues that should be taken care of by a primary care provider.
The issues we are facing are complex and longstanding, but now require immediate actions in order to remedy the current challenges, and to prevent further deterioration. Family Doctors in BC receive half of the remuneration of other provinces, such as Alberta or Ontario, despite often higher costs of living. The average fee for a patient seen in our office is $31, with 30-40% of this amount going to cover overhead costs. The ever-increasing burden of administrative work to review laboratory and radiology results, specialist consults, and other paperwork are not paid for, and many physicians work, uncompensated, into the evening in order to get this done, and to ensure proper care. Family physicians do not have any sick leave, pension or disability insurance benefits, despite being, effectively, government workers. 50% of all physicians in our province meet the criteria for burnout which can lead to mental health challenges, disability, and increased physician turnover.
For these reasons, and many more, it is difficult to financially support our clinics, which leads to the closures we have all heard about in the news. In addition, several physicians are turning away from longitudinal family medicine in order to work in other clinical environments that allow less stress and better compensation. New graduating doctors are choosing other fields of clinical care that allow a work/life balance, less chance of burnout, and higher remuneration.
As your family physicians, we chose this profession because we care. This is why we are still here, offering you care in clinic and in hospital, and always advocating for you as our patient, and for our community. And yet we also see, first hand, the gravity of this primary care crisis, and that this is perhaps just the tip of the iceberg. Immediate action on some of the issues raised above will better ensure that we are taking care of primary care and working towards our ultimate goal, which is a family physician for every British Columbian.
We, ValleyCare physicians and staff, ask for your support towards demanding immediate changes from our government. Please help support primary care in BC by contributing to one, or more, of the following:
- Sign the petition developed by the community group, BC Health Care Matters. Find it here.
- Write to your MLA asking for immediate action to support family medicine and primary care. A template for such a letter can be found
- Offer a kind word of support to your physician and clinic staff. We are working for you, despite often challenging conditions
Sincerely, ValleyCare Medical Physicians and Staff