Ontario to Cut Important Specialized Health Care Services by 29%

Nuclear Medicine Doctors Faced with Decimating Cuts 

TORONTO, Sept. 24, 2015 /CNW/ - Starting October 1st, 2015 physicians trained in the specialty of nuclear medicine are facing a 29.45% cut to their OHIP billing codes since 2012. These cuts represent a decimation of the profession that will have real consequences for patients and their families. The Ontario Association of Nuclear Medicine (OANM) expects these cuts will force the closure of some medical practices resulting in diminished access for patients and longer wait times for critical diagnostic procedures and treatments. Nuclear medicine is used primarily in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

"We are very concerned about the government's plan to implement these most recent cuts," said Dr. Christopher O'Brien, President of the OANM. "Nuclear medicine specialists were not consulted about this decision and what it would mean for patient care. It's moved so quickly we haven't had any time to discuss the implications with our patients and their families, let alone with the government."

The specialty of nuclear medicine has seen three times more cuts than any other physician group over the past three years. The most recent planned cuts unfairly target nuclear medicine specialists working in the hospital setting. These practitioners handle the most complex and difficult cancer cases daily and these cuts get at the heart of what they do with real implications for patients.

In addition to the planned cuts that target nuclear medicine the government is moving forward with a 1.3% cut to technical fees across all physician groups. In the case of nuclear medicine these fees are used to purchase the medical isotopes that are necessary to perform nuclear medicine procedures. There is already a gap in the actual cost of medical isotopes and what the government reimburses physicians for them, so this additional cut will further erode a specialist's ability to buy the tools they need to care for their patients.

"We are asking the government to put these cuts on hold until we have had a chance to sit down together and discuss the implications of this plan," said Dr. O'Brien. "We understand the need to find savings in the health care system and are more than willing to do our part but what the government is moving forward with will decimate our profession and leave vulnerable Ontario patients without access to the care they need."

SOURCE Ontario Association of Nuclear Medicine (OANM)

For further information: Media Contact: Dr. Christopher O'Brien, President, Ontario Association of Nuclear Medicine, 519-755-7876, Christopher.obrien@bchsys.org

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Ontario Association of Nuclear Medicine (OANM)

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