B.C. funding model sees boost in family doctors while numbers drop elsewhere: report

Click to play video: 'Family doctors shifting from primary to specialty care'
Family doctors shifting from primary to specialty care
It is getting easier for British Columbians to find a family physician, but a report has found many of those doctors are shifting their focus. Andrea Macpherson has more on how those family doctors are providing services outside of primary care. – Mar 26, 2024

A new report has found more family physicians are turning away from primary care.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, nearly 30 per cent of Canada’s family doctors practice outside of family medicine. That amounts to about 9,506 doctors.

That number grew slowly over the last 10 years but jumped since 2019 as family doctors report increasing challenges, including heavy workloads and admin demands.

Click to play video: 'Update on B.C.’s overhaul of primary health care system'
Update on B.C.’s overhaul of primary health care system

In B.C., a year since the province announced a new funding model, 700 more family doctors have enrolled in primary care.

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“There are more family doctors today in British Columbia than there were 10 years ago, let’s say,” said Kate Parson of the institute.

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“But year over year, we have seen that growth increase, the number of folks joining slowing, so there is less people joining than there was in the past.”

Click to play video: 'Global BC Presents: Surrey’s Health Care Crisis'
Global BC Presents: Surrey’s Health Care Crisis

In early February, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said 4,000 family doctors have registered with the new payment model in its first year, which has significantly increased access for British Columbians. As of December 2023, the province estimates there were 5,000 family physicians in total working in primary care.

“Last year, we committed to making every effort to rethink the way the province delivers primary care,” Dix said.

“As we mark the first year of our new payment model with family physicians, we’re preparing to connect people to primary care like never before. Among our efforts to strengthen primary care, launching a new payment system for family doctors has allowed them to focus on what they do best — providing care to patients.”

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