Doctors happy with tentative deal

Nanaimo physicians satisfied with the tentative agreement reached last week between the B.C. Medical Association and the province.

Some Nanaimo physicians are satisfied with the tentative agreement reached last week between the B.C. Medical Association and the province.

The proposed Physician Master Agreement, which must now be ratified by doctors provincewide over the next month and a half, provides targeted funding for initiatives in four areas: improving patient access to family physicians, enhancing care for patients with chronic conditions, increasing patient access to doctors in rural areas and improving recruitment and retention of specialists in B.C.

It includes $90 million in new money over two years, which covers a modest increase in the fee schedule and initiatives to improve services to patients, such as $20 million for specialist recruitment and retention, $10 million to expand physician services in remote communities and $18 million for improvements to primary care.

An estimated $10 million in savings through an agreement to review lab costs will bring the total spent on new services and fees to $100 million.

Funding levels for years three and four of the agreement have not been set.

Dr. Patricia Mark, a physician at the Sow’s Ear Medical Clinic in Lantzville, said her understanding is the fee increase amounts to about half a per cent for family doctors.

“We weren’t asking for a big pay rise,” she said. “These are hard economic times. We have got to be fiscally responsible. They do put in initiatives to help us.”

Initiatives such as recruiting specialists have had special funding on and off in the past and are complex issues, said Mark.

There are a few areas where Nanaimo could use some more specialists, although the city does not have the same recruitment problems seen in rural areas, she said.

Dr. Drew Digney, ER site chief at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, said the province seems to be targeting money at programs intended to help patients access the right care.

“What I like about this agreement is it looks like it’s patient-focused,” he said. “Anything that allows us to provide high-quality care is good. I see the tone of this as being very positive.”

Digney said the investment is good news in tough economic times and he’s hoping that this bodes well for separate negotiations around ER staffing.

He is seeking about 10 more physician hours per day to cover the increase in patients over the past couple years.

Dr. Gerry Vaughan, a physician at the Wellington Medical Clinic and vice-president of the Nanaimo Division of Family Practice, said he’s relieved a deal was reached, although now it will have to be ratified by members.

The purpose of the division is to identify gaps in the continuum of primary care and work with partners to address these gaps and Vaughan said the new money contained in the agreement could help the division and its partners achieve health-care goals.

“We hope the money will be something that divisions can access,” he said.

Just Posted

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews on scene at a boat fire near the boat ramp at Long Lake on Sunday, June 20. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Boat burns up on Nanaimo’s Long Lake, man and child unhurt

Jet skiers attempt to put out fire by circling around to spray water on burning boat

Nanaimo Track and Field Club athletes are off to a fast start this season after no competition last season due to the pandemic. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo athletes back on track, starting with club competitions

Nanaimo Track and Field Club registration filled up

A conceptual rendering of a commercial plaza at 1130 Rocky Creek Road. (Town of Ladysmith image)
Commercial plaza in north end of Ladysmith passes public hearing

Councillors debate proposed land use at 1130 Rocky Creek Rd.

The Nanaimo sign at Maffeo Sutton Park could be hazardous for children, says letter writer. (News Bulletin file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Nanaimo sign will cause falls

Children can’t resist climbing on sign, says letter writer

John A. Read, who was inspired to leave his former career to become a professional astronomy by the purchase of a $13 telescope, will give beginning astronomers key pointers on how to set up and get the best performance from their instruments at Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s meeting June 24. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Read)
Astrophysicist will talk about getting the most out of a telescope at Nanaimo astronomy meeting

John Read’s purchase of a $13 telescope led to a degree in astrophysics and a career in astronomy

Robin Dutton, left, and Peter Sinclair are taking their mountain bikes and travelling down trails in the Mount Benson area June 19 as part of a 24-hour fundraiser benefiting Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Full-day mountain bike fundraiser gives financial support for Nanaimo food bank

Event part of Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank’s Food 4 Summer campaign

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read