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.
"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. We will continue to work collaboratively with physicians to improve the delivery of health care to British Columbians."
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:
- $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 to enhance the supply and stability of doctors in rural and remote communities as well as access to emergency care.
- $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."
As part of this agreement, the ministry and the BC Medical Association (BCMA) have identified approximately $10 million in savings from laboratory services to offset costs.
Government and the BCMA agreed to a re-opener for 2014-15 and 2015-16. This will provide both parties the flexibility to make changes that reflect the financial environment.
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)
Investing in patient care
Government, in partnership with the BC Medical Association (BCMA), continues to move forward with strategies that increase access to health care for the benefit of all British Columbians. Strategies continued in the new Physician Master Agreement include:
General Practice Services Committee:
Through this committee, government and the BCMA have established more than five separate programs to improve the care patients receive and the way in which doctors deliver it.
The current agreement invests $18 million into the continuation and expansion of these programs including:
- The Full-service Family Practice Incentive Program supports doctors in developing care plans for patients with complex care, chronic disease, mental health illnesses, and more.
- The Practice Support Program offers focused training sessions for doctors and their medical office assistants (MOAs) to help to reduce patient wait times, increase practice efficiency and improve care for patients with chronic diseases. More than 2,300 doctors and over 1,000 MOAs have received training.
- Divisions of Family Practice, are affiliations of family doctors working together to achieve common health care goals in their communities. Currently, more than 2,000 family doctors participate in their local division.
- The Community Healthcare and Resource Directory, is a free, secure web-based database for health care providers which provides comprehensive and up-to-date listings for community health-care referral resources.
- The attachment initiative is a $137 million initiative, which aims to increase the number of British Columbians who have access to a family doctor.
Specialist Services Committee:
This committee facilitates collaboration between the government, the BCMA and the health authorities to support the improvement of the specialist care system. $18 million is being invested to continue initiatives that improve timely access to specialist consultant care including group medical visits, telephone consultations, and complex care planning.
In addition the agreement provides a separate $20 million to address difficulties in recruiting and retaining specific specialties. Specialist groups can submit applications for these funds, which will consider the intersectional and interprovincial disparities.
Committee on Rural Issues:
Doctors working in rural and remote communities face unique circumstances compared to their urban colleagues. $10 million is available in the new agreement to enhance physician services in rural and remote community 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.
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)