Physicians say B.C.’s offer to new doctors won’t help crisis

A file photo of a doctor

Chris Bartlett knows considers herself fortunate to have a family doctor.

“I feel extremely fortunate because I have had a doctor for a lot of years … and was then able to find someone fabulous like Dr. [Jennifer] Lush.”

Bartlett is one of the lucky ones because, according to the Ministry of Health, there are around 900,000 British Columbians without a family physician.

To ease the crunch, the provincial government is offering financial incentives to the University of British Columbia’s graduating class of family doctors. The financial incentives include a $25,000 signing bonus, loan forgiveness, and a contract for more than $250,000 in annual pay to start if they sign on by September.

“We offered to the doctors a new to practice contract to provide some debt forgiveness in the first year, and subsequent years if people were to take on full-service family practice,” said Health Minister, Adrian Dix.

But for the working family practitioners in B.C., that deal doesn’t address the crisis.

“It was surprising given that with all the recent attention, and the public’s demands for family physicians, I would hope that the government would sort of way of coming around to approaching this, which is to involve family doctors in the solutions,” said Dr. Jennifer Lush.

In May, Camille Currie organized a rally in support of more family doctors at the B.C. Legislature. She would like to see the government include family practitioners in any negotiations in the future.

“One of our biggest pushes is to ensure that in the government’s actions, and in the solution they are looking to create, that they are collaborating and this contract did not have any insight, they didn’t consult with Doctors of B.C., or any of the other advocacy groups.”

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Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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