Parents upset that Quebec pediatricians can no longer follow healthy children

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Parents upset pediatricians will no longer see their children for routine checkups
WATCH: Pediatricians are starting to conform to new guidelines stating they should no longer see children for routine checkups. Instead, parents are being referred to their GPs, even though hundreds of thousands of them have no GP. As Felicia Parrillo reports, the idea is to reserve time for pediatricians to treat complex cases, but parents are taking the news badly – Aug 11, 2022

Victoria Aubé is a mother of three girls in Quebec.

Until recently, her children had been followed by a pediatrician, which means they’ve always had routine check ups.

She was told that a new government policy will no longer allow for a routine check up, if the child is healthy.

“I was kind of taken aback by this because it was always a comfort to me to be able to take my daughter in and just get the confirmation from the doctor that everything is OK,” she said.

According to medical director of the Children’s Clinic, Dr. Harley Eisman, on Dec. 1 of last year, Quebec abolished general exams by pediatricians.

A post on the RAMQ website (Quebec’s health insurance board) shows they no longer cover pediatrician’s fees for patient general exams.

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Eisman says this was done so that pediatricians can devote their time to children with urgent, chronic or complex health issues, and that healthy children are instead being redirected to see their family doctor or a nurse practitioner for growth and development assessments.

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READ MORE: Quebec reaches deal with family doctors to improve access to basic care

That’s a problem for some like Aubé, who like hundreds of thousands of Quebecers, do not have a family doctor.

“I can’t get one … I’ve called around, no one’s taking patients,” she said. “I’ve gone to see the waiting list, but honestly, I have a friend that’s been on the waiting list for like six years.”

Eisman says he understands why parents would be nervous about the change, calling it a transition period. But he’s reassuring parents that pediatricians will not be showing patients the door.

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“What we’re asking is don’t anticipate that we’re able to see you for a routine physical exam, for a weigh-in, for a checkup, but please if we do follow you, please do call us if you have a problem or if we’re following you for a problem,” he said. “Obviously we’re there to continue to follow for that problem.”

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

Aubé says Eisman’s words are little comfort, fearing her children and others will fall through the cracks of the health system.

Global News reached out to Quebec’s health ministry for comment but has not yet received a response.

“I really think they need to reevaluate how important children’s health is,” said Aubé, “health in general, but especially children’s health.”

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