Sunny

Winnipeg, MB

12°c Sunny

Full Forecast

Local

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

After hours, Manitoba MDs are out

City doctor suggests money might make them more available

Posted: 01/22/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Advertisement

  • Print

Manitobans not only rank "dead last" in access to doctors after hours, but the impact on the province's emergency rooms is compromising a system where traditional, lengthy doctor-patient relationships are badly in need of a checkup, according to a high-ranking medical spokesman.

Findings from the 2012 Commonwealth Fund international health-policy survey show not only does Canada lag behind other countries in rapid access to doctors outside working hours, but Manitoba ranks at the bottom compared to other provinces.

"That isn't satisfactory," said Dr. Michael Moffatt, a Winnipeg pediatrician and member of the Health Canada Council, which released the report. "The public actually owns the system, and they should be getting better service."

Moffatt said doctors have "drifted away" from feeling responsible for their patients on a 24-hour, year-round basis, adding emergency rooms have become a "default system" for both physician and patient. Between 85 and 90 per cent of patients who visit emergency rooms have personal doctors, he said.

The survey found Manitoba doctors are among the least likely to have arrangements for after-hours care for their patients.

Moffatt, who also serves as executive director of research and applied learning for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, suggested physicians be offered financial incentives to develop support systems and link practices that could share patients. Most practices average between three and eight doctors, said Moffatt, addding "that's not enough to provide 24-hour, year-round coverage."

Moffatt said resurrecting the house call is another option. The report said 58 per cent of Canadian doctors make home visits, compared with between 90 and 100 per cent in the Netherlands, Norway, Britain, France and Switzerland.

"Maybe it (the house call) isn't dead," Moffatt said, noting there are no incentives for doctors to visit their patients. "Maybe it's something that needs to be looked at (reviving)."

Continuing to rely on emergency wards is not the answer, he said. "We've got a lot of congestion in our emergency program," he said. "At this point, we're at a stalemate."

Ultimately, he said, as health issues in an aging society turn to more chronic care, the need for long-term doctor-patient relationships will become more acute.

"It works much better if you have an ongoing relationship with people... who can take care of you over time. They know you, they know your medical history."

Moffatt acknowledged "it's hard to get your own physician if you don't have one."

Manitoba has the lowest availability of resources (doctors and nurses per 1,000 population) in Canada, according to a Fraser Institute report on health care.

Conservative provincial health care critic Cameron Friesen said the NDP government's failure to retain doctors -- more than 1,800 physicians have left Manitoba since 2001, he said -- is only exacerbating the pressure on emergency wards.

 

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 22, 2013 A4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.