‘Feels like a medical meltdown’: B.C.’s pay-for-service model is unsustainable, says doctor

'Feels like a medical meltdown': B.C.'s pay-for-service model is unsustainable, says doctor

Debra Whitman and her husband recently joined the long list of people in Greater Victoria now searching for a new family doctor.

“We received a letter saying our doctor was leaving for personal reasons,” said Whitman, who received the letter on Dec. 31.

The news means Debra, her family and around 1,500 other orphaned patients from Burnside Medical Clinic are now entering a wave of uncertainty.

“The urgent care clinics are at full capacity and none of the walk-in clinics are answering their phones,” said Whitman, a senior with health issues. “Feels like a medical meltdown.”

After CHEK News aired a story Monday about a husband and wife duo leaving their practice, many people across Vancouver Island sent messages and shared stories of their own doctors recently closing up shop.

Dr. Zabakolas told CHEK News that his experience with the current pay-for-service model was unsustainable. He said, on average, he’s paid just over $30 per patient visit.

However, that’s before factoring in overhead costs such as staffing and rent. So, he says, many doctors end up taking on a high volume of patients in order to run a profitable clinic.

The formula, Zabakolas says, can result in an ethical dilemma as too many patients could compromise the quality of care given by an overworked physician.

“Providing excellent care in Victoria is a very, very difficult thing to do,” said Dr. Velikovsky.

Doctors of BC told CHEK News via email that the current model is broken.

“We know it’s a model that no longer works well for all clinics. We need to provide a menu of compensation options that are available to physicians so that they can adopt the one that best fits their clinic and practice needs.”

BC Family Doctors echoed a similar statement today to CHEK News.

“We need funding models that support family doctors to provide high quality, collaborative, team-based primary care for patients across the province,” said Dr. Goldis Mitra, a BC Family Doctors board member.

The B.C. government and Doctors of BC are currently negotiating a new physician master agreement aiming to address many issues including the family doctor shortage across the province.

Dr. Matthew Ward, director of the Eagle Creek Medical Clinic said the fact that thousands are without a family doctor is unaceptable.

“Everyone deserves to have a family doctor,” he said.

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Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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