Doctors have ratified a new four-year agreement that will support ongoing efforts to recruit and retain physicians, while also improving access to specialists and care in rural and remote communities, according to a media release from the provincial Ministry of Health.
“Ensuring that families and seniors across British Columbia are able to access the care they need is a priority for our government,” said Health Minister Michael de Jong. “We are pleased that doctors have voted in favour of this agreement.”
The agreement is valued at approximately $100 million over two years, $49 million for the first year and $51 million for the second year – a 1.5 per cent increase in each year.
Funding for the first two years of the agreement includes $10 million to enhance the supply and stability of doctors in rural and remote communities as well as access to emergency care.
Doctors working in rural and remote communities face unique circumstances compared to their urban colleagues. The $10 million is to enhance physician services in rural and remote communities in B.C. This money will support the delivery of stable community practices and emergency room services as well as support ongoing training and skill development for physicians and locum coverage during vacancies.
The agreement also includes:
* $27 million for increased costs of providing insured services.
* $18 million to support and sustain full-service family practices in B.C. and ensure all British Columbians have access to primary care by 2015.
* $18 million to enhance access to specialty medical services.
* $14 million to respond to recruitment and retention issues for doctors on service or salary contracts.
* $10 million (plus $10 million from existing) to address difficulties in recruiting and retaining specialists.
* $2.7 million to support new procedures and advancements.
* $0.5 million for shared care between specialists and GPs.
“This four-year agreement will not only support access to care for patients but also provides doctors with the support they need to deliver comprehensive care in the areas of chronic disease management, maternity care, mental health and seniors care,” said de Jong. “The agreement also includes important funding to recruit and retain more specialists.”