Walk-in doctors across B.C. want equal pay

The Walk-In Clinics of BC Association met Friday for its annual general meeting

Doctors at over 300 walk-in clinics in British Columbia want fair payment for their work compared with those in full family practice, says the head of an association that’s rallying its members to increase access and profits through innovative technology.

Mike McLoughlin, founding director of the Walk-In Clinics of BC Association, said the facilities fill a gap for patients who can’t get a family physician or same-day appointments and should be considered an important part of reforming primary care.

The association gathered for its annual general meeting Friday, where members were expected to discuss various issues such as negotiations between the government and Doctors of BC, the association that represents the province’s physicians, whose master agreement will expire in March.

McLoughlin said walk-in doctors often see patients with complex conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but can’t charge the extra fees that are paid to full family physicians.

“Step up and pay the doctors for equal work that they do,” said McLoughlin, who, along with his wife, a family doctor, owns a walk-in clinic in Kelowna.

RELATED: Need a family doctor in Kelowna or Lake Country? Here’s a chance to get one

He said some walk-in clinics have been forced to close as doctors retire and there aren’t enough new ones to replace them, and patients can end up going from one clinic to the next or to the emergency room, costing the health-care system more money.

McLoughlin said access to care is further eroded by a quota for walk-in doctors who are paid to see up to 50 patients a day, followed by half the fee payment — or about $30 for a basic visit — until they reach 65 patients and then they get no fee at all.

“It’s wrong. This 50-person-a-day cap has created this anxiety among patients that they gotta get there early to see a doctor,” he said, adding long lineups outside clinics means they must close when the quota is reached.

He said many of the clinics could consider working towards enhancing technology to provide patients with better service, beyond seeing wait times online.

McLoughlin also called on the government to work toward allowing patients’ electronic medical records to be accessible to any physician they see, whether they are at their regular doctor’s office, a walk-in clinic or an emergency department.

Dr. Eric Cadesky, president of Doctors of BC, said walk-in clinics provide ”episodic care” but their physicians don’t do the work to justify an annual bonus for treating complex conditions that must be regularly monitored through an ongoing relationship with patients.

“Every day I probably call 10 to 20 patients, I probably email another 10 or 30 patients,” he said. ”Sometimes the person doesn’t need to see a doctor and sometimes I may not be in the office. It may be on the weekend or I may be away but I’m able to continue that relationship and help people make the best decision possible.”

Continuity of care is missing in walk-in clinics, though he’s hopeful they will be involved in changes to primary care, Cadesky said.

RELATED: Medimap draws award from B.C. doctors

“In an ideal system patients would be able to access doctors that know them and know their history and are able to care for them in the context of an ongoing relationship.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix said walk-in clinics could be part of the move to attach more patients to family doctors through yet-to-be opened primary care networks that will have various health-care providers including nurse practitioners, physiotherapists and dieticians.

“We have a very significant group of people who are unattached to a family doctor, currently in excess of 750,000 people,” he said.

“Walk-in clinics absolutely play a valuable role today and I actually think there’s potential for them as private primary care networks to work with other practitioners in the community.”

The government is working to harmonize electronic medical records in order to enhance time-saving access to patient information after the previous government’s failed attempts cost millions of dollars, Dix said.

“I think making sure that everyone has appropriate access to the record is an important and useful thing and community by community we have to make sure that happens,” he said. “I’m very disappointed. I would have assumed 10 years ago we would have been further along.

Ujjal Dosanjh, a former federal health minister and premier of British Columbia, was scheduled as a keynote speaker at the walk-in clinics’ meeting.

While the clinics provide vital access to doctors who should have access to electronic medical records, the patient quota should not be scrapped, Dosanjh said.

“If you go to 70 patients a day I’d say it’s more of a commercial enterprise than a public health enterprise.”

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Four cheer teams heading to Florida

Mission’s Academy of Cheer Excellence will compete in the Summit World Championships in Orlando

Job market to remain tight in coming years: report

Conference Board of Canada predicts region’s unemployment rate to remain below five per cent

Trio of Mission lacrosse talents sign with U.S. schools

Abbott, Adams and Bramley continuing lacrosse journey in NCAA

Sister of teen gunned down in 2014 aims to keep kids out of gangs

Jessica Sherman volunteers for KidsPlay Foundation in Abbotsford

Mission students, teachers help to create art work

Heritage Park Middle School unveiled A River of Belonging

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Woman, 60, charged in connection to thefts at YVR

RCMP believe the foreign national is part of a larger organized theft group

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Worst 10 bus routes in Metro Vancouver for rider complaints

TransLink releases list, with Route 319 at the top

Mayors, First Nations chiefs, urge ‘immediate action’ on new Massey crossing

Joint letter asks province to move up timeline, consider only eight-lane tunnel options

Bus driver assault in Vancouver once again raises safety concerns

A 49-year-old Surrey man was released on a promise to appear in court. No charge has been laid

Most Read