LETTER: Want doctors? End government health care monopoly

Re: Physician Shortage Profound (The NEWS, Oct. 12).

Local politicians are looking to the provincial government to help them solve the major physician shortage problem. However, history has shown that government is the problem causing physician shortages through poor health care management policies.

We should not be surprised if the current effort also results in failure. In 2013, the provincial government estimated 200,000 people in B.C. needed a family doctor. That same year, the province promised all residents access to a family doctor by 2015 with its $132-million, “GP for Me” program. However, B.C. is increasingly falling further behind in addressing a critical shortage of family physicians, and the government did not meet its promise.

According to the CMA, there were more than 83,000 active physicians in Canada in January, 2017. That’s about 2.28 physicians per thousand population. Other developed nations have more than 3.3 physicians. Of the active physicians, 52 per cent are family physicians while 48 per cent are specialists. Most disturbing, 40 per cent of physicians are age 55 or older.

Increased health care services demands, coupled with a tsunami of retiring baby-boomer health care professionals, is a recipe for disaster. In the 1980s, government health care planners postulated there were too many physicians in Canada, and so medical school places were cut. Over the last decade, there has been an increase in these school placings, but not enough to replace the retiring physicians.

The Canada Health Act requires all provinces to provide reasonable access to health care to all who require it. Access to a waiting list is not access to healthcare (Supreme Court of Canada). The sooner governments get out of the business of managing and legislating healthcare, the sooner we will see improvements. The current monopoly by government must end.

Anthonie den Boef

Nanoose Bay

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