BC Medical Association

BC Medical Association

July 07, 2011 13:00 ET

BCMA: Planning Now for a Future Tomorrow-Ensuring Patients Have Timely Access to Doctors

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - July 7, 2011) - BC needs to develop and implement a plan that makes certain we will have enough physicians to take care of this province's aging and growing population. Factors such as aging physicians, increasing patient health complexity, and the changing medical practice all contribute to physician supply and demand and need to be addressed to secure a healthy future.

In its newly released policy paper, Doctors Today and Tomorrow: Planning British Columbia's Physician Workforce, the BC Medical Association takes a look at the needs of patients vs. physician resources and makes nine recommendations to offset potential supply problems down the line. There is no ideal physician-to-population ratio or right physician number because forecasting requires the inclusion of many difficult to measure variables. Actual numbers of physicians(age, specialist, GP, female, male, part time, full time, clinical, administrative, etc.), their geographic distribution, and the type of specialty all need to be properly addressed to manage the physician workforce. As well, increasingly complicated patient care, rising patient expectations and the resulting demand for more physician time and services have to be factored in to future planning.

"Despite increases in medical training spots,BC will face challenges in providing reliable patient care in the future if we don't start planning now to keep up with the changing environment," says Dr Shelley Ross, co-chair of the working group that authored the paper. "This will require leadership, better coordination among stakeholders and timely and effective responsiveness to population health needs or we'll find ourselves in a future that will be extremely difficult to manage."

Key recommendations the BCMA says need to be included in long term physician planning are:

  • Establishing a physician resource committee led by the BCMA, Ministry of Health, and health authorities to identify short and long term priorities and to develop and coordinate a workable plan
  • The health needs of the population must be taken into account in any physician resource planning endeavour
  • A provincial physician workforce database must be created and will form the basis of physician resource planning

Addressing the challenges facing physician workforce planning ultimately requires leadership and a commitment from all parties not to fall back on the status quo. Too often each party develops and implements their policies in isolation. The policy paper can be found on the BCMA website at www.bcma.org.

Contact Information

  • BC Medical Association
    Sharon Shore
    Senior Manager, Communications and Media Relations
    604-638-2832 or 604-806-1866 (pager)