Re: Doctors host meeting on doc shortage (The NEWS, May 5).
As indicated in this article, there is a general shortage of family physicians throughout Canada. I blame this situation on the government of Canada and the provincial governments.
For one, the Canada Health Act needs a major overhaul to permit private health delivery and insurance in competition with the public system. The Netherlands has a dual private and public system with annual per person expenditures comparable to Canada, and there are no long waiting lists.
In Canada, the provincial government controls the health services delivery purse strings within the policy constraints of the Canada Health Act.
In B.C. a family physician is only paid for a maximum number of daily patients. Thus a physician’s income is capped. Moreover, current government budget restrictions control availability of operating rooms and thus the long waiting lists for orthopedic surgery.
Furthermore, prospective doctors are not attracted to family practice, but instead choose to become specialists who then may decide to move elsewhere. Moreover, university enrolment restricts the number of student-doctors due to budget restrictions.
The health delivery model must change to allow any doctor to charge what the market will allow. Private or public insurance will cover part of this cost for the patient. Attractive incomes will attract more doctors to family practice. Universities should become profit centres and charge tuition fees commensurate with the increased influx of new medical students.
Presently, universities are dependent on government handouts and thus limit space for aspiring students.
The fall of communism in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe has shown that government control fails miserably and in the end costs the citizen more. Our free enterprise system elsewhere in the economy shows increased wealth for the majority of citizens as compared to inefficient government-controlled sectors.
The first phase of the baby-boomer tsunami is turning 70 this year. The problem will get much worse in the coming years due to this tsunami unless major policy changes are undertaken.
Anthonie den BoefNanoose Bay