The provincial government has reached a deal with the association representing general practitioners to give Quebecers easier access to healthcare.
In a statement published Sunday, the government said the deal will allow patients signed up with a family doctor to have access to that doctor or another one from the doctor’s group within 36 to 72 hours, depending on their medical situation.
For those without family doctors, an online platform under development will let them make an appointment to consult with the right health professional within a “reasonable” delay.
“The deal in principle we’re announcing is the fruit of several months of discussions, sometimes intense, but always with the shared vision that the status quo is no longer an option in terms of access,” Health Minister Christian Dubé said in a statement, thanking the Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec for its ideas.
To improve access, family doctors will have to plan in their schedules time for appointments for urgent needs. The FMOQ said participation in this system will be voluntary for each doctor.
The deal will also see “hundreds of thousands of patients” from the Guichet d’accès à un médecin de famille progressively signed up with a group of doctors doing front-line care by March 31, 2023, starting with the most vulnerable.
The deal in principle won’t cost extra for taxpayers, as the funding comes from a package already negotiated for the 2015-23 period.
FMOQ members have to ratify the deal, which will be presented in detail over the coming weeks. A vote will take place at the end of May, but the federation said it plans to “go ahead with several innovative measures” that it has been proposing for several months.
“It’s time to do things differently in Quebec, particularly by sharing the collective responsibility of access to care with other health professionals and investing massively in our front-line care,” FMOQ president Marc-André Amyot said. “The right professional for the right patient at the right time must be the objective underlying all our actions and this deal clearly appears to be a good step in this direction.”
The FMOQ represents 9,500 members across Quebec. Despite the deal announced Sunday, it said it continues to be opposed to certain “counter-productive” aspects of Quebec’s Bill 11, which aims to increase the availability of front-line care.