OMA Section on General & Family Practice launches media campaign

TORONTO, Sept. 23 /CNW/ - The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) Section on General & Family Practice (SGFP) held a media conference today to announce the launch of its first ever media campaign. The campaign, which begins this week and includes print ads in the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail, as well as Maclean's Magazine, focuses on the issue of patient safety. The advertisements invite patients to visit an interactive website in order to share their healthcare experiences. Various other materials - including posters and patient handouts - will be available in family doctors' offices across the province. Section Chair Dr. David Bridgeo was joined at the media conference by SGFP Vice Chair Dr. Ross Male and the Chair of Public Relations and Communications Dr. Jim Stewart.

"Patient safety is of vital importance to all of us," Dr. Bridgeo said, "That's why the Section on General & Family Practice of the Ontario Medical Association has decided to launch its first ever media campaign here today. And while not an attack on either government or other healthcare provider groups, the campaign does ask our patients in no uncertain terms to stop and think about the decisions that are being made by government, and how they will affect patient care and ultimately patient safety."

Dr. Bridgeo went on to say that while family doctors acknowledge government faces a number of challenges when it comes to maintaining and reinvigorating our healthcare system, it is patently absurd to think that nurse practitioners can replace family doctors, or that pharmacists have the education and experience to prescribe medications. No matter how hard government tries to convince the public, Dr. Bridgeo continued, they will never succeed in fooling patients into believing that quality of care will not suffer and patient safety will not be at risk as a result of their actions. It is like comparing family doctors to airplane pilots. While it might be true that you only need the pilot for take-offs, landings and emergencies, how many people would be comfortable having someone with less education, training and experience replacing pilots for the entire flight?

"For several years now, government has been preoccupied with 'transforming' our healthcare system," Dr. Male said. "As part of their transformation agenda, they have consistently gone ahead and made changes without consulting frontline family doctors. We believe this is a mistake. As the tagline in our advertisements says, we are 'the educated voice in healthcare'. No other group has the kind of training and education that family doctors do when it comes to diagnosis and treatment. Government would be wise to remember this before charging ahead and blindly making changes to our healthcare system."

Dr. Male further explained that while government has been keen to portray family doctors as the 'gatekeepers' of the system, doctors themselves are very uncomfortable with the concept. A gatekeeper, Dr. Male said, is someone who says 'No' and denies care to patients. Family doctors prefer to think of themselves as 'advocates' for their patients - crusaders who will fight to get the services and care their patients need and deserve.

"Politicians, by their actions, have shown in the past that they only care about what voters think at election time," Dr. Stewart said. "Through our campaign and with our new interactive website, the family doctors of Ontario want our patients to know that we care about what you think all the time. That's why we're asking you to share your healthcare experiences with us online, so that we can better understand how to be the best and most effective patient advocates we possibly can be."

Dr. Stewart concluded his remarks by pointing out that patients need to keep in mind it's their tax dollars that fund our healthcare system and it's their vote that ultimately determines how those tax dollars are spent. Your family doctor has always been there for you, Dr. Stewart reminded everyone. Now family doctors need you to be there for us. Hopefully, patients will heed the call and join with family doctors to ensure that patient safety is a priority for everyone - all the time - everywhere - no matter where you live.

N.B. For more information, or to set up an interview with Dr. David Bridgeo, Chair of the OMA Section on General & Family Practice, please contact Stephen Skyvington at the number below.

The Ontario Medical Association Section on General & Family Practice is the authoritative voice of family medicine in Ontario. It is dedicated to enhancing the value and well being of its members and the provision of excellence in healthcare for patients. For more information, please visit their website at familydoctorsofontario.ca.

SOURCE Ontario Medical Association

For further information: For further information: Stephen Skyvington, Phone: (416) 985-2239

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Ontario Medical Association

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SECTION ON GENERAL AND FAMILY PRACTICE

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