500,000 More Ontarians with Access to a Family Doctor as a Result of Investments in Family Doctors



    McGuinty Government and Ontario Medical Association Have Worked Together
    to Reduce Number of Patients Without a Doctor

    TORONTO, June 21 /CNW/ - The McGuinty Government, working with Ontario's
doctors, has made significant progress since 2003 to increase the number of
Ontarians with access to family physicians, Health and Long-Term Care Minister
George Smitherman and Ontario Medical Association President Dr. Janice Willett
announced today.
    "For the first time in a decade, the province has seen an increase in the
number of Ontarians who have ready access to a family doctor," Smitherman
said. "There is more to do, but working with Ontario's doctors we have turned
the corner and we are poised to build on this progress."
    Based on independent survey data and data from Statistics Canada, when
population growth is accounted for, the number of Ontarians with regular
access to a family doctor has increased by 500,000. According to the Primary
Care Access Survey, undertaken by an independent research group at York
University, about one million Ontarians are currently without a family doctor.
Without significant investments in primary care since 2003, this number would
have been much higher. Of those without access to a family doctor, the survey
also shows that approximately 388,000 people are considered "in-transit" at
any given time, either between physicians due to population migration or
because their physician moved, retired or left practice.
    "Initiatives and incentives introduced in recent years have been
instrumental in improving the ability of patients to access the medical
expertise of a family doctor," said Dr. Janice Willett, President of the
Ontario Medical Association. "To further improve recruitment and retention
efforts, we need to continue to take steps to make Ontario a more attractive
and competitive place to practice medicine."
    
    This increase has occurred due to many factors including:

    -  Many family physicians are working longer hours and accepting new
       patients;

    -  150 Family Health Teams introduced since 2003, which have allowed
       nurse practitioners and other health care professionals to leverage
       the medical expertise of physicians to assist in seeing more patients.
       There now are more than 1,400 doctors and 588 other health care
       professionals working in Family Health Teams;

    -  An increase in the supply of family physicians working in Ontario by
       3.4% between 2003 and 2005 due in part to an expansion of the
       province's International Medical Graduate program and efforts to
       attract and retain physicians by making Ontario a jurisdiction of
       choice for those looking to practice primary care;

    -  Incentives available to Primary Care Physicians in all models to
       encourage the enrolment of patients that formerly did not have a
       family physician.
    

    In September 2006, the Ministry and the Ontario Medical Association
formed a joint working group to understand the size, scope, distribution, and
depth of unattached patients in Ontario and to focus joint efforts on
developing strategies to reduce the number of Ontarians without a family
physician.
    The Ministry and the OMA are continuing their work with priority being
given to efforts to increase access for Ontarians who are most in need, such
as older citizens and those with chronic diseases.
    As part of the recently completed joint review of the Four-Year Physician
Services Agreement, the Ministry and the OMA have agreed to additional
investments in incentives to encourage physicians to enrol more patients in
primary care models.
    Access to family doctors will also continue to rise significantly over
the coming years because of other McGuinty government initiatives, including:

    
    -  Opening the Northern Ontario School of Medicine with 56 medical school
       spaces and expanding enrollment in our southern medical schools by 104
       new spaces. This will mean that there will be a total of 852 first-
       year medical school spaces in 2008, an increase of 23 percent;

    -  More than doubling the number of training and assessment positions
       available each year for International Medical Graduates to 200 from 90
       in 2004. Last year the government surpassed its own target by offering
       a record 218 positions to foreign-trained doctors. Since 2003,
       approximately 750 International Medical Graduates have received
       certificates to practice in Ontario and there are currently more than
       500 IMGs enrolled in ministry-funded training and assessment programs;

    -  Investing $43 million in the creation of 141 new family medicine
       training positions. This 70 per cent increase in training positions
       will lead to 337 additional family doctors in practice by 2008.

    These initiatives are part of the McGuinty government's plan for
innovation in public health care, building a system that delivers on three
priorities - keeping Ontarians healthy, reducing wait times and providing
better access to doctors and nurses.

    This news release, along with other media materials, such as matte stories
and audio clips, on other subjects, are available on our website at:
http://www.health.gov.on.ca under the News Media section.

    For more information on achievements in health care, visit:
www.resultsontario.gov.on.ca.

    Disponible en français.



    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

         MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT AND ONTARIO MEDICAL ASSOCIATION REDUCING
             NUMBER OF PATIENTS WITHOUT ACCESS TO A FAMILY DOCTOR
    

    In September 2006, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the
Ontario Medical Association formed a joint working group to tackle the issue
of orphan patients.
    The working group has completed the first phase of its work - estimating
the number of orphan patients, understanding their health care needs, where
they are concentrated in the province and why they do not have a regular
family doctor.
    The Ministry and the OMA are continuing their work with priority being
given to efforts to increase access for Ontarians who are most in need, such
as older citizens and those with chronic diseases.

    Primary Care Access Survey (PCAS)

    The Ontario Medical Association, the Ontario College of Family
Physicians, and the research community were consulted in the initial
development of the survey which is conducted by the York University Institute
for Social Research, Canada's largest university-based survey research unit.
    The Primary Care Access Survey is a random telephone survey collecting
information from over 2,000 Ontario residents every three months.
    The survey began in January 2006 and is conducted in both English and
French.
    The long term goal of the Primary Care Access Survey is to put in place a
program to measure, on an ongoing basis, access to family doctors and primary
health care in Ontario, and to track the impact various primary care reforms.
    The survey findings indicate more Ontarians now have access to a regular
family doctor than before. Further, while there are still up to one million
without a regular doctor, about one-third report they don't have a regular
doctor because they have moved, while others are without regular doctors
because their doctors have retired. Those without regular doctors generally
get the care they seek at walk-in clinics and occasionally through emergency
departments.

    
    Disponible en français.

                             www.health.gov.on.ca



    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

               BUILDING ON THE AGREEMENT WITH ONTARIO'S DOCTORS

    The Physician Services Framework Agreement, signed in 2004 by the Ontario
Medical Association (OMA) and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
(MOHLTC), includes a commitment to address issues identified during a
reassessment process to take place in the fourth year of the agreement. The
MOHLTC and OMA began discussions in early 2007 and jointly agreed to a package
of recommendations on May 31, 2007.
    The reassessment includes recommendations and investments in the following
areas:

    -  Health Human Resources
    -  Access to Primary Care Services
    -  Access to Hospital Care
    -  Community Care
    -  Medical Services Payments
    -  Physician Services Committee

    HEALTH HUMAN RE

SOURCES ---------------------- ATTRACTING PHYSICIANS - Implement a relocation support program through the government's HealthForceOntario initiative to encourage physicians who have a connection to Ontario or Canada to return to practice in Ontario. RETAINING PHYSICIANS - Consolidate existing Ministry and OMA Locum Programs at HealthForceOntario. - Expansion of OMA administered Continuing Medical Education in 2008. - Establish a joint Retention Incentive Committee to exploring opportunities for a Retention Incentive Program in Ontario that will maintain existing physician resources and attract new physicians. - A Service Recognition Payment to physicians for practicing in Ontario based on the number of years of continuous service. Physicians will be eligible for a payment every five years with 29 or fewer years of service, and every three years with 30 or more years of service. - Continue the Northern Physician Retention Initiative - Expand coverage of the Pregnancy and Parental Leave Benefit Program for physicians. ACCESS TO PRIMARY CARE SERVICES ------------------------------- A significant number of patients who would otherwise be orphaned now have access to a physician because of incentives introduced under the 2004 agreement between the ministry and the OMA. Additional initiatives will further reduce the number of orphan patients and assist those in areas of high need, and include: - Doubling the new patient fee incentive threshold (which pays $100 per patient) from 150 patients to 300 patients per year for new physician graduates - Increasing the new patient fee incentive to sign up older patients from $110 to $120 for patients 65 to 74 years of age and from $120 to $180 for patients 75 years of age and older - Increasing the new patient fee incentive threshold of 50 patients per physician per fiscal year to 55 patients in 2007-2008 and to 60 patients in 2008-2009 Improvements in access to primary care services are also being made in the following areas: - Obstetrical bonus fee for physicians who provide a minimum of five deliveries per year from $3,200 to $5,000 - Provision of obstetrical deliveries outside of regular office hours will be counted towards the Family Health Group physician's commitment for after hours service - After hours premium increased from 10 per cent to 20 per cent for comprehensive care physicians. A one-time payment to recognize physicians participating in capitated primary care models. ACCESS TO HOSPITAL CARE ----------------------- The MOHLTC and OMA agreed to enhance the delivery of health care in hospitals through the following initiatives: - One-time payment before April 1, 2008 to surgical physicians who have facilitated the introduction of the Wait Time Information System; - Recommendations from a new subcommittee to support the role of physicians in managing access to wait times services; - Develop a program for most responsible physician services which includes recommendations for payment of full-time hospitalists and community GPs. COMMUNITY CARE -------------- The MOHLTC and OMA have agreed to improve the level of patient care provided in the community with respect to palliative care services. This includes implementing a weekly management fee that will pay physicians who are managing the care of palliative care patients. MEDICAL SERVICES PAYMENT ------------------------ The MOHTLC and OMA have agreed to a number of fee schedule changes that reflect the needs and economics of modern health care, promote patient access to appropriate medical care, and offer competitive compensation. - A package of fee code recommendations will be implemented during 2007/2008 that will address services in a variety of areas including: cancer surgery, transplant surgery, sinus surgery, paediatric psychotherapy and paediatric surgery. - Recommendations will be developed to deal with issues of relativity including work that has begun on surgical procedures. PHYSICIAN WORK ENVIRONMENTS --------------------------- The MOHLTC and OMA agree that reducing the administrative burden to physicians may result in additional resources available for the assessment and treatment of patients. During 2007-2007, the following initiatives to address administrative burden will move forward: - Hospital Standardized Bookings - review hospital surgical/diagnostic/medical booking processes and make recommendations on standardization and streamlining - Education package - develop education packages for physicians, employers and insurers on best practices - Offer recommendations to eliminate, consolidate, simplify or streamline forms used by the MOHLTC, Ministries of Transportation and Community and Social Services. PHYSICIAN SERVICES COMMITTEE ---------------------------- The joint ministry/OMA Physician Services Committee will establish a tripartite committee that includes membership from the OMA, MOHTLC and Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) chief executive officers. The committee will act as a liaison between LHINs and Parties about issues of province-wide interest. The Physician Human Resources Committee will make recommendations to the Physician Services Committee on how to develop and implement the following: - A program that defers or pays interest payments on Canada Student Loans for medical residents during the period they are in training - Options to reduce or eliminate the student loan repayment for Ontario- educated medical students over a number of years of practice in Ontario - A mentorship program to provide opportunities for experienced physicians to transfer their skills and knowledge to other physicians with a focus on areas of higher need - An evaluation of the repatriation program proposed components. Disponible en français. www.health.gov.on.ca

For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: David Spencer, Minister's
Office, (416) 327-4320; David Jensen, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care,
(416) 314-6197; Members of the general public: 1-866-532-3161

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