The president of Doctors of BC says he is optimistic about the number of family doctors signing up for the new pay model.
After implementing the new payment model for family doctors in the province that came into effect Feb. 1, roughly half of the family doctors in the province have signed on as of March 10.
“At the six-week mark, we’re very pleased that nearly half the physicians across the province have opted into this model, it continues to affirm for me that, I think, this model is reflective of what needed to happen,” said Dr. Josh Greggain said in an interview with CHEK News.
“What I’ve really heard from my colleagues…are things like ‘you’ve given me joy in my practice again,’ ‘you’ve given me hope that what I do is important,’ ‘you’ve given me an opportunity to not only not quit, but also continue on this path to provide patients care,’ which means that patients don’t lose their physicians. But we’ve also then seen some new physicians join the fold, which I think is really exciting.”
In 2021/2022 there were 4,122 physicians working in the province. 2,142 of those doctors have signed on to the new model, according to the Ministry of Health in a statement to CHEK News.
Within Island Health, 26 new family doctors have started practice, with 351 existing doctors opting into the new scheme. Additionally, 22 new doctors who are either new to B.C. or were not full-practice family physicians signed onto the model.
“I am over the moon excited about 48 new physicians to Vancouver Island, I think that’s more than what was expected,” Greggain said. “What it really tells me and tells us is that this model was designed to retain physicians to help look at the cost of business and how they wanted to provide care. But it was really, hopefully, to inspire the next generation of physicians.”
In addition, 10 Canadian medical graduates and 16 international medical graduates set up new practices with the new payment model on the Island.
“We are encouraged by the warm reception of family doctors to the new model since its introduction on February 1, 2023,” the statement from the Ministry of Health says. “We expect the number of new and existing family physicians opting into the latest model and New-to-Practice incentives program to continue rising.”
Across the rest of the province, a total of 38 Canadian medical graduates (10 in Vancouver Coastal and nine each in Fraser and Interior Health), and 82 international medical graduates (36 in Fraser, 22 in Vancouver Coastal and eight in Interior Health) have signed up.
“The Province is committed to continuing to work with family doctors and other healthcare providers to ensure that all British Columbians have access to the high-quality care they deserve,” the statement says. “The success of the new payment model is a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation at the heart of our reforms to primary care in B.C.”
READ MORE: B.C.’s new family doctor payment model takes aim at ‘crisis’ in primary care
In addition to the new payment model, the B.C. government has also established a “New-to-Practice Incentives Program” where new physicians who have completed their family medicine residency who will set up a full-time clinic are offered:
- A new-to-practice service contract rate of $295,457 per year;
- An additional overhead clinic contribution of $75,000 per year;
- A one-time signing bonus of $25,000
- A one-time medical education debt relief grant of up to $50,000 in the first year, and possibilities of up to $20,000 for years two through five.
In 2019, 66 per cent of people living in Island Health were attached to a general practitioner, according to BC Community Health Service Area Health Profiles.