TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2016 /CNW/ - On behalf of Ontario's doctors, we appreciate the work that the Auditor General (AG) has done to examine various areas of the health-care system in her annual report.
Ontario's doctors are committed to providing the highest quality care to patients, regardless of the type of model they practice in.
Team-based models were developed at a time when there were more than two million Ontarians without access to a family doctor. Following the implementation of a number of group and team-based models, more than 1.3 million patients now have a family doctor who didn't have one previously. Prior to the introduction of group and team-based models, the family doctor shortage was at a crisis level. Group and team-based models have helped renew primary care in the province but it bears repeating that 700,000 patients still don't have a family doctor.
The provincial government has been underfunding the Ontario health-care system for many years. In the absence of a PSA, the government has unilaterally cut the necessary growth in the budget that goes toward all of the necessary patient care that doctors provide by almost seven per cent. The Auditor General rightly points out that these unilateral cuts were made without any evidence-based justification. Ontario hospitals have also been hit hard by years of frozen hospital budgets, while the number of patients and the demand for care has increased steadily. Across the province, many doctors are unable to provide timely treatment to their patients because there is a lack of funding for operating rooms. This needs to change.
Physician OHIP billings have been used by the current government to attempt to vilify Ontario's doctors. The focus on OHIP billings in the AG report only demonstrates that physicians are willing and able to work extremely hard in order to try to provide care to patients. Addressing the variances in OHIP billings must be approached using all available information and with a clear understanding of location, specialty, number and complexity of patients being cared for. Using anecdotal evidence about a miniscule percentage of Ontario's 29,000 physicians without any context provides little insight into the complex issue of physician billings.
Progress on improving Ontario's health-care system has been stalled because doctors have been without a contract with the government for almost three years. In the absence of a Physician Services Agreement (PSA), doctors are frustrated that they can't contribute their innovations to the delivery of patient care or help solve the challenges in the system.
What is clear is that many patients are waiting too long to access the tests and treatments they need. The government's solution has been to increase bureaucracy, while at the same time ignore input from front-line doctors. Patients and doctors need a collaborative partner in government so that we have a health-care system that is not only sustainable, but able to meet the needs of our growing and aging population.
Dr. Virginia M. Walley,
Ontario Medical Association
SOURCE Ontario Medical Association
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