Stewart Kennedy, President of the Ontario Medical Association, has posted a statement in response to the Drummond report.
Not surprisingly, Ontario doctors welcome recommendations to expand the Family Health Teams, where the auditor recently revealed generous incentives for doctors to sign up. At present, there are more doctors who would like to practice in the FHTs than there are opportunities available.
However, the doctors do take umbrage to Drummond’s suggestion that they are the highest paid in Canada. It is true that Ontario’s overall physician costs are among the highest per capita, but that does not mean the individual doctors are the country’s top earners.
According to Kennedy, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) states the average gross payment for a family doctor in Ontario ranks 8th out of 10 provinces and is below the national average. The average gross payment for a physician ranks 7th out of 10 provinces.
Clearly the docs are miffed about Drummond’s focus on restraint.
Writes Kennedy: “It’s important to note that Mr. Drummond’s work focused solely on balancing the provincial budget. Economists look at things very differently than doctors do. As doctors, we will focus on patients, improving their health and well-being and ensuring they have access to the right care when they’re sick. It will be important to strike the appropriate balance between finding efficiencies and protecting patient care.”
The doctors are targeted in many of Drummond’s recommendation, Kennedy remaining silent on most such issues for now. Likely the most contentious will be to shift OMA bargaining to the Local Health Integration Networks.
There are many other new roles for doctors under Drummond’s scenario, including a requirement that they track their patients as they move through the health system, engage middle-aged patients in discussions about end of life care, and work with Health Quality Ontario who will enforce “evidence-based directives to guide treatment decisions.”
Somehow we don’t think this will be the last word from Stuart Kennedy on the Drummond report.