Furstenau urges government to prioritize family doctor shortage before crisis worsens

May 05, 2022

WHISTLER B.C. – B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau today outlined several short- and long-term steps the Province should take to address the family doctor crisis. Calling out the B.C. NDP government for its failure to act with urgency, Furstenau emphasized that the Province has the necessary tools to begin a rapid shift in the delivery of primary care.

“Since the BC Greens outlined the need to shift away from the fee-for-service model last month, the B.C. NDP government has blamed others for the family doctor crisis and deflected calls for action. According to Premier Horgan, everyone from the federal government to immigrants are the root of the problem. In fact, the current crisis has grown in scope and severity over the course of several governments, including the B.C. NDP governments of the 1990s and the B.C. Liberal governments of the 2000s.

“Today, I am calling on the B.C. NDP to focus on solutions and urgently prioritize actions that will get British Columbians access to primary care. There are concrete steps that the government can take to protect family practices from more closures while transitioning to a sustainable model for the delivery of primary care.”

Furstenau outlined several specific actions:

In the short-term:

  1. Provide financial support to existing family practices so that no more offices have to close their doors. Financial support would relieve the burden on clinical structures such as rent, admin, and supplies that doctors rely on to do their jobs.

  2. Protect whistleblowers and address waning morale in the healthcare sector. Healthcare professionals should not fear repercussions for speaking up when their work conditions are unsafe or patients are put at risk. Nor should they feel abandoned by their government and hopeless at work. 

In the long-term:

  1. Build the infrastructure for team-based primary care and a shift away from the fee-for-service model. A team-based approach is about British Columbians getting the right care, from the right person, at the right time, while freeing up family doctors or nurse practitioners to provide the aspects of care they are trained to do.

“At the end of the day, this is about caring for British Columbians”, Furstenau added. “Primary care is the hub of our healthcare system, and it is collapsing. The Horgan government’s failure to act decisively is callous and costing people their health. We need action now.”

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Quotes from nonpartisan healthcare experts

“We need policy supports and infrastructure investments to move away from the requirement of a fee-for-service based, physician-owned business model. Simply adding more physicians into the system will not address a shortage that is caused by an antiquated practice model.”

Lindsay Hedden, Assistant Professor of Learning Health Systems at SFU.

“The current government primary care plan is to do more of what they have been doing for the past three years. But one never solved a problem by doing more of what caused it.”

Damien Contandriopoulos, Professor and Acting Director of Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health at UVic’s School of Nursing

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