When Langford resident Camille Currie received the news that her family doctor at Eagle Creek Medical Clinic was closing her practice, her first reaction was feeling angry and betrayed.
She says she initially felt anger towards her doctor, then she started looking into the issue.
“It was those feelings and those concerns that led me to starting some research and figuring out why exactly is this happening,” Currie said. “And that’s when I very quickly realized that this is not my GP’s fault. She has been doing the very best she could do considering the circumstances the government has put these medical professionals in.”
Following her research she realized there are likely others like her who don’t understand the facts of the situation, so she started a Facebook group to share information about the health care situation in the province, and a petition calling on the government to make changes to improve access to primary care.
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She says they both quickly took off, with the Facebook group reaching 600 members in a few days, and the petition reaching over 3,400 signatures since it was launched Sunday evening.
Currie says many of the people joining the group and signing the petition do not have a GP, but there are also people who do have family doctors but are concerned about the shortage of walk-in clinics.
Currie says she has also sent emails to Premier John Horgan, who is her MLA of Langford-Juan de Fuca, to voice her concerns about the issue but she has not heard back from him or his office.
She says she watched the Council of the Federation news conference where Horgan, as the chair of the federation, announced the provinces are asking the federal government to increase the Canada Health Transfer in order to reduce wait times for diagnostics and lab tests.
“But my question to him would be how do you think that your citizens can even get to take advantage of diagnostics and lab and tests like mammograms when we don’t have a GP to give us those referrals?” Currie asks.
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She says there is more that needs to be addressed in healthcare in the province, not just the changes the federation announced need to be made.
The provincial government and Doctors of BC are currently in negotiations since the end of the current Physician Master Agreement is coming to an end on March 31, and Currie says this is an opportunity for the government to implement changes that would improve primary care in the province.
“One really important thing is to encourage the doctors that we’re currently training to stay here in our province and not leave or go work in other models that are outside of the family practitioner model,” Currie said. “The primary ask is funding, [doctors] need to be compensated appropriately.”
According to the closure announcement at Eagle Creek Medical Clinic, doctors are paid $31.62 per patient they see under the current fee-for-service model, but family doctors are often run as a private business.
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That means they are responsible for paying all their overhead costs, including rent, insurance, and other day-to-day expenses.
Doctors of BC says it is hearing from physicians that there is interest to move to an alternate payment model, which is something the organization is seeking feedback for.
Currie says she hopes to see changes brought forward to the primary care model in the province, and will continue to push for change until it happens.
“I decided…that I was going to make it my mission to do everything I could as a citizen, to bring forward that issue, bring it forward to the provincial government.”