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Montreal family doctors angered by threat to penalize those who don’t take on more patients

Click to play video: 'Montreal physicians outraged over government’s goal to take on 1,000 patients' Montreal physicians outraged over government’s goal to take on 1,000 patients
WATCH: Family doctors in Montreal are speaking out against the provincial government's plan to force some to take on more patients. The general practitioners claim the premier is disconnected from their reality, saying they are already overwhelmed. As Phil Carpenter reports, they argue patients will suffer if the government follows through. – Nov 4, 2021

Doctor Maya Cholette-Tetrault says Quebec Premier François Legault has no idea of her reality as a family physician.

“This idea that we can count the amount of work that we do by counting the number of patients that we have on our list,” she told Global News, “doesn’t make any sense.”

On Oct. 27, Legault threatened to penalize doctors who don’t take on up to 1,000 registered patients.

Read more: Legault threatens to penalize Quebec family doctors who don’t take on more patients

Cholette-Tetrault who has just over 500 registered patients said she was upset by the threat.

“I felt a little bit sad for myself,” she said, “but also for my friends and my colleagues who I see running around every day working crazy hours.”

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In frustration, the general practitioner took to social media to outline not just her reality, but that of her colleagues as well.

“Even if your family doctor isn’t calling you back the next day or can’t see you for the next two weeks, it doesn’t mean they’re on a golf tournament,” she pointed out.

Cholette-Tetrault says she ends up working up to 65 hours a week, not all of which is recognized by the government.

“So if you spend 24 hours in a hospital waiting for moms to deliver their babies and nobody delivers,” she explained, “then that shows up as 24 hours of you not working.”

Click to play video: 'Tensions mount between Quebec premier and family doctors as Legault threatens sanctions' Tensions mount between Quebec premier and family doctors as Legault threatens sanctions
Tensions mount between Quebec premier and family doctors as Legault threatens sanctions – Oct 27, 2021

Doctor Juan Carlos Chirgwin, another family doctor, agrees.

“Many physicians in Quebec also work in hospitals, case rooms, they provide urgent care to people at secondary care level and so they can’t be in two places at once,” he argued.

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Chirgwin noted that one problem is that certain services – like physiotherapy and psychology – are not accessible to people without private insurance.

“This makes the work of the family doctor harder,” he observed, “because we then have to do the work of a physiotherapist, or a psychologist.”

With that in mind, Cholette-Tetrault says Legault’s plan to force doctors to take on 1,000 patients means they won’t have time for everybody.

Read more: Increasing need for family doctors in Nova Scotia, as waiting list grows to 78,000

According to the health care network, more than 800,000 people in Quebec are waiting for a family doctor.

On Wednesday health minister Christian Dubé told Global News that he and the doctors agree on one thing.

“There is a need to reduce the number of Quebecers drastically that are on the waiting list for a [general practitioner].”
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He said he and doctors are in discussions to find a solution.

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