‘If the grass is greener’: Saskatoon physician calls for primary care reform

A Saskatoon family physician was looking forward to some primary care reform after Saskatchewan's budget announcement at the legislature on Wednesday, but said he was left disappointed. File / Getty Images

A Saskatoon family physician who was looking forward to some primary care reform after Saskatchewan’s budget announcement at the legislature on Wednesday was instead left disappointed.

“I just didn’t really see that,” said Dr. Adam Ogieglo from Lakeside Medical Clinic. “More or less, it comes down to we need more family doctors.”

Wednesday, the Saskatchewan government announced an additional $431 million to the Ministry of Health’s budget in comparison to last year, totaling a 6.7 per cent increase.

Total health-care funding for the province now stands at $6.9 billion for the year, $4.4 billion of which is targeted for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, a 4.5 per cent increase over the last year.

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Saskatchewan’s medical recruitment plan, the Health Human Resources Action Plan, will receive a $98.8 million government-wide investment. The money will be distributed through the Ministry of Health, advanced education, and immigration and career training.

The plan is aimed at bringing more physicians and practitioners to the province and offering additional training seats to education programs.

Click to play video: 'Sask. healthcare system ‘dissolving’'
Sask. healthcare system ‘dissolving’

“We’ll have to kind of see how things sort of flesh out in terms of some of the fine details but I didn’t see anything specifically geared towards family medicine, apart from seats, which was nice to see some additional training spots for family doctors in the province,” Ogieglo said.

Ogieglo explained that Saskatchewan’s current system for paying medical professionals isn’t all that enticing.

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“We pay per patient encounter. Whether it’s a 15-minute encounter or a one-hour encounter, the amount the one gets paid is the same. Complex care of an aging population with more complex medical needs is not being adequately addressed in our current system. It is going to require an investment change.”

He noted that other provinces are making system changes toward funding of family health teams.

“If we don’t do it, we’re going to fall behind and doctors are going to leave, (even) new graduates,” said Ogieglo. “We can train as many family medicine residents as we want to, but if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, you know, they’re mobile.”

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