More patients across the province are getting the care they need: Ontario's

TORONTO, June 2 /CNW/ - The latest information from the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) shows that not only are there more doctors practising in the province today, but that more patients than ever are receiving the care they need and deserve.

Since 2008, some 600,000 patients who previously didn't have access to a family doctor now do, which exceeds the goal of 500,000 set by the OMA and the government in the most recent physician services agreement. Overall, more than 1.2 million patients have found a family doctor as a result of the last two Agreements since 2004.

"Ontario's doctors are very proud of this achievement and we'll continue to do our part to ensure everyone in the province has access to a family doctor," said Dr. Mark MacLeod, President of the OMA. "There has been some great progress with the recruitment and retention of doctors to Ontario, which is good news for patients and our health care system, but we know there is more work to do."

Of the over 1 million patients who have gained access to a family doctor, 180,000 of those were seniors and 185,000 were children under the age of 14. This is a particularly important achievement because according to a recent report by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), children who don't have access to primary care physicians are twice as likely to visit the emergency department.

This finding is consistent with a 2008 ICES report which found that not having a family doctor leads to more emergency room visits and hospital admissions for those who have chronic diseases in Ontario. Specifically, more than 118,000 excess emergency room visits happen annually due to patients without regular, continuous care by a family doctor and there are more than 17,000 excess hospital admissions annually due to patients without regular, continuous care by a family doctor.

    Statistics from the OMA reveal that:

    -  There are over 2000 more physicians practising in Ontario today than
       in 2004, which is an increase of over 8%;
    -  Since 2005, the average net gain of physicians in Ontario is 500;
    -  The number of physicians per 100,000 population has risen from 173 in
       2003 to 184 in 2008;
    -  First year enrolment in Ontario medical schools has gone from 700 in
       2003/2004 to nearly 900 in 2008/2009;
    -  The number of medical graduates choosing family medicine has grown
       from 27% in 2003, to 41% in 2009.

With more doctors practising in Ontario, there have been great strides towards strengthening the system as more patients are receiving care. For example, since 2004 Ontario's doctors have;

    -  Treated over 30 million patients in emergency rooms;
    -  Performed more than 775,000 cataract surgeries;
    -  Performed nearly 108,000 knee replacement surgeries; and
    -  Performed more than 70,000 hip replacement surgeries.

"The future of and the sustainability of health care in this province is a crucial issue. We are fully committed to working with the government to make Ontario an even more attractive place to practice medicine and to help develop a comprehensive system that will improve patients' access to quality health care and will also result in the best outcomes for patients," Dr MacLeod said.

SOURCE Ontario Medical Association

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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