Government has to stop looking for cheap way to address doctor shortage, says GP – Home | The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti

Wednesday May 03, 2017

Nova Scotia’s doctor shortage — about 10 per cent of the population can’t find a general practitioner —  is a hot-button issue in the election campaign that just started April 30.

And it’s an issue voters on the other side of the country are talking about in B.C. as they head to the polls next week. They are also facing a shortage of family doctors. About 700,000 people in the province don’t have a family doctor — which is about 15 per cent of the population. 

Family physician Chris Pengilly in Victoria, B.C., points to the changing face of family medicine as part of the issue.

Fewer family physicians are interested in the traditional family practice model, with the high overhead, long hours and added responsibilities that go with it.

He suggests scrapping the fee-for-service model that governs most of the Canadian health-care system is the place to start.

“It’s time it was rewritten completely. It’s like an old car. It’s got three new gearboxes and four new engines, new upholstery and new tires. But, you know, it’s time to just dump it and get a new one,” Pengilly tells The Current‘s Anna Maria Tremonti.

The shortage of doctors in Nova Scotia is worsening as a growing number of physicians near retirement, recruitment levels lag and health needs become more complex, warned Doctors Nova Scotia. (Shutterstock/funnyangel)

Pengilly says “hospitalists” — family physicians who work out of hospitals — are paid an hourly rate and have none of the overhead costs associated with running their own practice. And they work a regular 40-hour work week, allowing them to maintain a better work-life balance. 

However, the biggest challenge Pengilly points out will be the money needed to make substantive change to the health-care system.

“Governments are not looking for a better…

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