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'People are burnt out': B.C. doctor says primary care needs to be revamped

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The family doctor crisis in B.C. is growing as locals become increasingly concerned about their ability to access primary care.

About 20 per cent of people in B.C. don't have a doctor and Dr. Josh Greggain from Doctors of B.C. told CTV Morning Live Monday primary care in the province isn't "adequately serviced right now."

Greggain said he's hearing two main things from his colleagues in the field.

"The first one is people are burnt out, tired, it's the long pandemic," he said.

"Secondarily it's really around value. What is my time valued as? How can I provide the service to the patients that I'm able to and how can we continue to provide more service to the patients who are currently unattached, that don't have access to care."

Greggain said the province's fee-for-service model, which pays physicians for each visit, needs to be adjusted.

"I think the big conversation is around the fact that the … fee-for-service is antiquated so to try to upgrade that or update that to ensure patients get better care and that the family physicians have the opportunity to provide the time that is necessary," he said.

"It's not that this current model is completely broken, it needs revamping, it needs reconfiguring and significantly more resources."

Late last month, a desperate Vancouver Island family paid nearly $300 to take out an ad in the newspaper looking for a doctor to fill prescriptions. 

A Victoria doctor did eventually respond to their ad, taking the senior couple on at her practice.

In a statement, B.C.'s Health Ministry said it knows "many people in the province are feeling the effects of the capacity challenges our health-care system is facing, and this individual is no different."

"We take the challenge seriously, and are working as efficiently as we can to improve primary care for people in B.C.," the statement said.

The family said in its ad even the wait for virtual care was months long.

Greggain said virtual care has provided access to communities that didn't previously have any, but it shouldn't replace in-person care altogether.

"We believe that virtual care is an adjunct to face-to-face care and there's absolutely opportunities for people to get novel or creative care … I think it's of paramount importance that virtual care is both here and here to stay," he said.

"We have to balance that against the opportunity to continue to provide in-person care when it's both necessary, when it's accessible and when it's required."

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Shannon Paterson

Watch the full interview with Dr. Josh Greggain in the video player above. 

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