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BC's Family Doctor 'Shortage'

Here is a 🧵to help you understand BC's family doctor shortage.

Only it turns out we actually have more family doctors than we think.

The real question then is where are they?

And why?

This shows the number of family doctors per capita for each province.

BC actually has the third HIGHEST in all of Canada.

We have over 20% with no family doctor but only 13% of the population. Way more than our fair share.

That makes no sense. So what’s going on?

Dentists, lawyers, plumbers, other doctors… the longer it takes do something or the more complex it is, the more they charge. That just makes sense.

Not family doctors. They get paid the same fee for each appointment, whether it’s 5 minutes or 25.

A whopping $31.72.

And yes, that $31.72 is the second lowest in Canada.

It's barely increased over time. Unlike inflation, staffing, housing, …

What has increased is the paperwork each visit generates, all unpaid.

Let's see what that means.

If they see two patients per hour, they barely make enough to cover overhead costs like their staff and office. Nothing left for them.

As the number of patients goes up, so does what they take home. The more patients they see, the more they make.

That’s why appointments are often so short. Why it’s one problem per visit. Quick things like prescriptions, and referrals. Not enough time to actually treat most real problems. Patients often don't get the help they need.

Others, who spend the time to listen, do all the things that need to be done, and provide good care work their tails off. They struggle to cover expenses and take home decent pay. Patients more often get the care they need than with all short visits.

Because family practice pays poorly, many work elsewhere. Places that pay better with fewer hassles. Urgent care. Telehealth companies. Hospitals. Cosmetic clinics. BC family doctors are doing all of these instead of family practice.

What effect does that have?

In the past, most did family practice, so we had enough to meet demand. A small number did other things.

Now, less than half do family practice. Far less than we need.

Too many family doctors are working everywhere except where we need them most.

And if we don’t make family practice more attractive, it’s going to get even worse.