Family doctors in Ontario are meeting online to discuss alternative career paths amid the primary care crisis

A group of family doctors held a meeting Monday evening to talk about alternative career paths because they say the practice of family medicine is not sustainable in Ontario.

Dr. Ramzi Hegazy, founder of the Ontario Federation of Family Physicians, a group of more than 1,700 doctors, said the organization had planned a mass movement for doctors to take a “coordinated day off” on Monday but decided to hold a virtual meeting instead to avoid any impact on patient care. About 150 family doctors participated in the professional summit.

Hegazy, a family doctor in Ottawa, said the goal of the meeting was to draw attention to the crisis facing family doctors. He said family medicine in Ontario is unsustainable due to insufficient funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and the amount of time family doctors must spend on administrative work, which is estimated at 19 hours a week.

“It really speaks to how dire the situation is and frankly how desperate family doctors are,” he said.

Hegazy said after the meeting that the doctors talked about the possibility of moving from family medicine to other fields such as hospital medicine or cosmetic medicine.

“This has given a lot of doctors the feeling that there are options available, and you don’t have to feel like you have no control over your condition in the future,” he said.

Hegazy said the meeting was also intended to draw attention to what doctors believe is a lack of good faith on the part of the Ministry of Health in its negotiations with the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) over the next Physician Services Agreement, which limits how much money doctors can pay the government. To provide care under OHIP.

The current agreement expires on March 31. OMA represents more than 43,000 physicians, medical students and retired physicians in the province.

In an online petition, the union says it’s important to recognize that family doctors are small business owners who face “significant” financial challenges.

doctor.  Ramzi Hegazy
“It shows how dire the situation is and, frankly, how desperate family doctors are,” says Dr. Ramzi Hegazy, founder of the Ontario Federation of Family Physicians, a group of more than 1,700 doctors. (CBC)

“The government pays Ontario’s family doctors through dedicated funding to cover various expenses such as rent, staff salaries, nursing services, electronic medical records, computers, phone bills, utilities, etc. However, this funding has remained stagnant for too long and has failed to keep up,” the petition states. High costs and inflation. As a result, family doctors struggle to cover their basic operating expenses.”

“Our government needs to support primary care.”

Dr. Alia Daramsi, an emergency department physician at University Health Network, said she is not surprised that doctors are moving to make their voices heard. It’s not part of the group.

“Our government needs to support primary care. That’s the bottom line. We need family doctors. They are the backbone of our health care system. They are the scaffolding. Without them, everything falls apart,” she said.

“What we know is that the population is growing, our population is aging, the needs of people in the health care system are growing and expanding, but what is not expanding is the financial support for our family doctors,” she added.

“You cannot have limited resources to support an infinitely growing population.”

The OMA said in a statement on Monday that it was aware of the meeting and noted that doctors were not allowed to strike under its agreement with the government.

“We appreciate the significant challenges that family physicians face. We also appreciate the frustrations they face due to system-level barriers to practicing comprehensive family medicine,” the statement read.

OMA said that resolving the family medicine crisis is one of its top priorities.

watched State of Family Medicine in Canada:

“I feel like I’m failing”: Inside Canada’s family doctor crisis

The crisis in family medicine has two sides, and it has serious consequences for all of us. Nick Burdon meets an elderly patient in rural Ontario who has been trying to find a family doctor for a year and an exhausted family doctor who admits to losing things with her patients.

Ontario says it’s making record investments

The Ministry of Health, for its part, said in a statement Monday that it will add thousands of doctors by expanding medical schools, including the University of Ottawa, and expanding multi-specialty primary care teams, which it says will connect 98 per cent of Ontarians to a primary care provider.

In a Feb. 1 press release, Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones said the province is investing $110 million to connect up to 328,000 people to primary care teams, which she said will move the province closer to connecting everyone in Ontario to primary care.

“Our government is making record investments to ensure that everyone who wants to have a primary care provider can call one,” Jones said in the statement. “While there is more work to be done, giving hundreds of thousands of Ontarians the opportunity to connect to primary care brings us that much closer to that goal.”

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