Unilateral fee cuts could drive physicians out of the province to the U.S.
WINDSOR, ON, May 10, 2012 /CNW/ - The latest information from the Association of American Medical Colleges suggests the United States faces a shortage of over 90,000 physicians in the next decade including 45,000 family doctors. Speaking on the bank of the Detroit River, Dr. Doug Weir, President of the OMA, sounded the alarm about the impact of the government's plan to unilaterally impose fee cuts on physicians and the effect these will have on the province's ability to recruit and retain physicians.
Under recent reforms to the U.S. health care system, 32 million more Americans will receive health coverage in 2014, and it's estimated that 15 million Americans will be eligible for Medicare. The OMA is concerned about increasing competition for Ontario doctors, due to the increasing demand from South of the Border.
The latest information indicates that the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network has the worst patient to doctor ratios in the province at only 1 physician per 1,721 patients. In addition, Windsor and the surrounding area are also still short nearly 200 doctors. Information recently released by the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) reveals that over 927,000 patients in Ontario, including 132,000 children, still do not have a family doctor, and the province is short more than 1,000 doctors.
Earlier this week, the government confirmed what Ontario's doctors have been fearing, that they are unilaterally and retroactively imposing significant cuts to health care services and fees that will have serious consequences for patients across the province and will seriously impair the ability to recruit and retain doctors.
"Ontario must be an attractive place to practice medicine so that we can retain the physicians we have, attract new doctors and protect against poaching from competing states and provinces. The message from the McGuinty government to our medical graduates and doctors who might think of returning to Ontario is clear - we don't value your input in our health care system. There's no doubt that doctors will start to consider more seriously their options in other jurisdictions."
"It wasn't that long ago Ontario was bleeding doctors. While we have made some progress to reverse that trend the government's scheme to unilaterally cut physician fees is going to seriously impair our ability to keep the doctors we have from being lured away by other jurisdictions like the U.S."
Dr. Doug Weir
Ontario Medical Association
Cuts to services in family care, cardiac care, diagnostic services, eye care and anaesthesia services will have a negative impact on patients and communities. For example:
- Changes to diagnostic testing will impact the ability of a cardiologist to detect and treat serious heart disease and longer wait times for any type of cardiac testing;
- Just a few years ago there was a critical shortage of anaesthesiologists in Ontario which caused longer wait times for surgeries and operating room cancelations were common. Unilateral cuts will make it difficult to recruit and retain anaesthesiologists;
- Patients in Ontario, particularly seniors will suffer from reduced access to medical care for blinding conditions like macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetes; and
- Patients will wait longer for diagnosis for commonly required radiological services like mammography and ultrasound, and there will be reduced access to radiology clinics which will push wait times for CT and MRI scans back to 1990 levels.
For further information: