Healthcare will suffer under Bill 20, say medics
Bill 20 is not a cure to what to what ails Quebec's healthcare system, according to a group of medics who met in Montreal to denounce Liberal Health Minister Gaetan Barrette’s plan to impose patient quotas on GPs.
The legislation would require doctors to see more patients or face fines of 30 per cent of their pay. Quebec physicians would be required to see between 1,000 and1,500 patients per year, far more than the current average of around 550.
The real problem is that the current system requires them to perform too many non-medical tasks, they say.
“It’s not necessarily that we’re working less hours, it’s that we are not able to work as efficiently because we are spending our time doing stuff that could be done more efficiently or by other healthcare professionals,” said Dr. Robin Coombs, who works as a family physician.
Coombs says that she spends an “amazing amount of time” on non-medical tasks. “I can spend time on the phone trying to get an ultrasound. It’s absolutely outrageous. I have to be the one making the call because I otherwise can’t get the appointment done quickly for my patient.” Coombs suggested that nurses perform such tasks.
The family doctors argue that there are better ways to improving access to family care in Quebec. They propose increasing the ratio of family doctors to specialists in the province to a 60-40 split.
“We need to make family medicine something that's valued and important,” said Dr. Tara McCarty, who works as a family physician in the West Island. “All health care stems from primary care in the beginning. The big problem with Bill 20 is that all of the value of family practice has been taken out and all we're hearing from the minister is negatives from the family practice.”
The demands that come with the law will do little to increase the total of family physicians, according to the Quebec Federation of Family Physicians. “The proposed law will discourage young doctors from choosing family medicine he says. This will have long term consequences,” group representative Sylvain Dion told CTV Montreal Sunday.
The group issued a list of 12 demands, which included a raising budgets, better coordination between healthcare workers, more home care for seniors, and a town hall on health issues.
Barrette has repeatedly said that he will not amend the legislation. “They are asking me to back down on bill 20, which is something that I will not do,” said Barrette on May 7.