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Kootenay family doctors welcome provincial cash

About 85 local family doctors in our region could be in line for a portion of $118 million the provincial government has announced to help them with overhead costs.

That estimate comes from Andrew Earnshaw, the executive director of Kootenay Boundary Division of Family Practice, a co-op whose membership includes doctors and nurse practitioners.

“This funding is a short-term infusion to cover rapidly rising costs and address a long-standing inequity in income between family doctors and other general physicians who choose to undertake sub-specialty work like working in emergency rooms or hospitals or cancer care,” Earnshaw says.

The money will be available for four months beginning Oct. 1.

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Earnshaw says the announcement should result in some short-term stability for both physicians and patients. He said it would “deliver fairness to family doctors that they’ve been asking for for some time, and stop the exodus out of the practice.”

While BC has struggled to meet the demand for family doctors, Earnshaw said things seemed to have reach a tipping point.

“There is some hope these funds will attract other doctors to return but the priority is stability,” he said. “It will give the family doctors still working enough resources to hang on and buy us some time to implement some more long-term solutions that will help rebuild practice.”

Funding is available to family doctors who provide ongoing services and who pay overhead. It’s also available to clinics committed to remaining open and maintaining consistent hours.

Provincial officials said approximately 3,480 family doctors who have their own practices and 1,100 family doctors working in walk-in clinics are eligible for the money.

That’s over 70 per cent of family doctors working in the province.

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