Our Medical System is Failing

Sorry not sorry, but I am going to rant for a moment!

As someone who suffers from a progressive chronic illness I will start by saying how thankful I am for parts of our medical system here in Canada. Now for the rant…….Did you know that over a million people in British Columbia (population of just over 5 million) and six million Canadians do not have a family doctor according to new research, and cannot get one.  That equates to 1 in 6 Canadians.  Many of these people have even stopped trying to find a doctor.

A 2 minute google search will show just how badly our medical system is failing.  And hear me when I say that this is not a problem with our physicians, nurses, lab techs, specialists or other various healthcare professionals, this is a Provincial and Canada wide issue.  Doctors themselves are begging for help https://bcfamilydocs.ca/ongoing-media-coverage-on-bcs-family-doctor-shortage-2/

“Practicing family doctors cannot provide the care that British Columbians need and deserve. It’s time to invest in family doctors”

Of those lucky enough to have a family doctor, just 7% say they have easy access to them https://www.vancouverislandfreedaily.com/news/more-than-60-of-b-c-adults-have-no-family-doctor-or-poor-access-to-one-poll/

Our medical system is failing those who need it the most – and don’t even get me started about all these virtual appointments – many people aren’t even given the opportunity to have a face to face appointment. What????

Why does it take so long to be diagnosed with diseases and why do those needing lifesaving surgeries wait until they are almost on their death bed before making it up the list or dying before they even reach the operating room?

Why is that someone who is clearly disabled is unable to get their long-term disability approved because they have no family doctor to fill out the forms?

Why does someone who has every symptom of a disease have to fight tooth and nail to get the help they need early on which is the most important time in dealing with a life altering disease?

Why does someone with mental health issues who is looking desperately for help, have to wait to access the very services that can be the difference between life and death?

I am one of the lucky ones, but it appears that I am clearly in the minority when it comes to my medical care. However, I am still frustrated for the ones who seem to have no voice when it comes to their own health challenges and diagnosis.  What is it going to take for the powers that be to make some changes and provide the population with what they need so badly?

Why does a community with a population of 72,000 have only 2 drop in clinics? These clinics regularly meet their capacity before lunch time and often before 9 am so there are times that if you aren’t there at O dark hundred you have absolutely zero chance of seeing a doctor. What is wrong with this picture?

Do we not pay our doctors enough? Don’t we have incentive enough to attract doctors here?  I mean we live in one of the most desired areas in the entire country. WTF is going on?  And heaven forbid you just need a prescription refilled, you have to call 2 weeks ahead of time to wait for an appointment for that service and by god figure out your biggest issue at any time because if by some miracle you get an appointment, you can only talk about 1 issue during your 5-10 minute appointment.  Now don’t get me wrong, there are many doctors that go the extra mile for their patients and I am thankful to have had and currently have physicians that do that for me, but  what I am hearing is that I am in the minority.  I know of at least 5 people (in my small circle of friends or family) right now that either don’t have a family doctor or have a doctor that has inadequate time or inadequate staffing to provide the level of care that these people deserve and need.   Shame on you BC.

A CBC report covered this very issue in April of this year, and they say that the Fee-for-service system of care that pays doctors for each office visit is a major factor in the shortage. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/victoria-doctor-shortage-1.6427395 

“People familiar with how it works say the high volume of administrative work needed for doctors to get payment — combined with the low amount of take-home pay it generates — is discouraging doctors from practising family medicine, and that’s created a dire need for family physicians and a reliance on emergency rooms and clinics”. Time that should be spent with patients is frittered away on form-filling and hoop-jumping that the government requires just for a doctor to be paid. This is a massive waste of an already-too-scarce resource.

A new advocacy group of B.C. family doctors is coming forward to say the primary care crisis in the province isn’t the result of too few physicians, but a matter of priorities and compensation that could be solved virtually overnight. 

Family Doctors for Better Patient Care in B.C. is proposing a five-point plan to improve primary care, with the first and quickest action (plus the one with the biggest impact) is to pay general practitioners for the time they actually spend with patients – a move that would not require a dramatic overhaul of the system. 

B.C currently pays doctors per visit, no matter how much time they spend with a patient, which often leads to either rushed appointments or doctors making significantly less than their hospitalist counterparts. One physician on Vancouver Island says that most doctors are paid about $30 per patient visit and, from that, they pay for staff, medical equipment and office space. She says she works 70-hour weeks and struggles with work-life balance. Half the hours she puts in are unpaid, because they are spent doing paperwork.Alberta, family doctors are paid under 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, which seems to be working and is enticing doctors to jump ship from elsewhere and head to other provinces to work.

SO, I ASK YOU BRITISH COLUMBIA, WHY ARE YOU NOT FIXING THIS? It sounds like an easy fix to me so I ask again, WHY?  I will however give a pass in one area and only one, and this is that we are facing an aging population with more complex issues and therefore requiring more attention, but otherwise THERE ARE NO FURTHER ACCEPTABLE EXCUSES in my humble opinion. The writing has been on the wall for years, you have had a chance to fix it but didn’t, so we find ourselves in a critical situation RIGHT NOW, and it’s not too late. Why is this not a priority? I mean when our own Premiere needed treatment for his cancer, he didn’t have the run around that many others do. Why is that? Why are you letting down the very people who pay your salaries and who need you so desperately?

A solution must be found and quickly because as I see it, failure is the only thing that is guaranteed at this point.

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