Collaboration key to quality health care, not competition: Ontario's doctors

    TORONTO, Feb. 20 /CNW/ - Just a week after committing to help 500,000
patients find a family doctor, the Ontario government is moving forward with
an initiative that diverts resources away from achieving this goal, Ontario's
doctor's say.
    "At a time when financial resources are stretched thin and there is a
shortage of nurses it would seem more appropriate to open additional
collaborative care teams that we know are having a positive impact on
patients," said Dr. Ken Arnold, President of the Ontario Medical Association
and family physician in Thunder Bay. "The Ontario government committed to open
50 additional Family Health Teams and Ontario's doctors are calling on the
government to deliver on their promise."
    Over the past four years, collaborative care models have helped
physicians provide care to over 630,000 patients who previously did not have a
family doctor. The implementation of Family Health Teams has been tremendously
successful in Ontario.
    The Kingston Family Health Team currently provides care to 22,500
patients and will soon serve an additional 6,000. In North Bay, the Blue Sky
Family Health Team serves some 30,000 patients, up from 18,000 when it was
established in 2005, and the Hawkesbury Family Health Group cares for some
18,000 high-need patients. By way of comparison, the Sudbury Nurse
Practitioner Clinic has only taken on 1,900 patients since opening in August
    All health care professionals have an important role to play, which is
why Ontario's doctors have long advocated for collaborative health care teams
where various health professionals work together under one roof to provide
care to a large number of patients. It is puzzling why the government would
press ahead with an unproven and untested model such as independent lead nurse
practitioner clinics rather than effective and efficient collaborative care
    "If the government is going to open more independent nurse practitioner
clinics then they have a responsibility to demonstrate to taxpayers that these
clinics are delivering on the outcomes that patients expect. To date they have
not done that," added Dr. Arnold. "As a family physician I know first hand
that if there were another nurse or nurse practitioner in my office it would
enable me to provide more patients with more care. I have spoken with a number
of my colleagues and they couldn't agree more."


       What are health professionals working together in Family Health
                                Teams saying?

    "If I'm uncertain of a diagnosis or a treatment plan is not proceeding as
expected, I am readily able to obtain the service of the family physicians on
site for consultation. It saves time and money for repeat visits from the
patient and physician." - Nurse practitioner 1 at the Caroline Family Health
Team, Burlington.

    "It provides me with a safety net for the patient that has a problem
outside my scope that was booked as a problem within my scope. I am also able
to have and refine skills under supervision until I feel that I can manage
independently." - Nurse Practitioner 2 at the Caroline Family Health Team,

    "My interaction with our allied health professionals has helped me to
focus on areas of improvement which streamline our service and improve patient
care." - Registered Nurse at the Caroline Family Health Team, Burlington.

    "With each allied health person contributing their expertise, I have time
to focus on areas where I can be of most help to patients, and reinforce the
message of the allied health personnel." -Lead physician at the New Vision
Health Team, Kitchener.

    "Allied health care providers give better care to chronic management
patients allowing me more time in my schedule to see others." - Physician at
the New Vision Health Team, Kitchener.

    "Knowing that our patients are happy and healthy because of the
interactions of skilled professionals is highly satisfying." - Diabetes nurse
educator at the Taddle Creek Family Health Team, Toronto.

    "(We are) able to learn a lot from each other, patients get higher level
of service, (and we) share responsibility for difficult patients." - Lead
Physician at the Upper Grand Family Health Team, Fergus.

    "The physicians I work with have been excellent collaborative partners.
They have supported my learning and continue to offer me the best
partnerships. They have supported my practice development." - Nurse
Practitioner at the Barrie & Community Family Health Team, Barrie.

For further information:

For further information: OMA Media Relations at (416) 340-2862 or
toll-free at 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2862

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