By CURT FIRESTONE
Family doctor road signs have been with us all summer long on Salt Spring Island.
The small print on those signs states: “EVERYONE DESERVES A FAMILY DOCTOR.” They have been placed on our roadways by BC Health Care Matters members.
BC Health Care Matters (BCHCM), under the umbrella of the non-profit Canada Pacific Health Care Matters Society (CPHCMS), is a grassroots organization that promotes timely access to appropriate health-care services for all B.C. residents. We are not affiliated with any political party. Camille Currie is the founder and organizer of BCHCM and the president and director of CPHCMS.
As you may know, approximately one million residents of British Columbia do not have access to a family doctor. People are dying unnecessarily because of long waits in emergency rooms (ERs) or because of the closure of ERs across the province. Many of these deaths are closely related to a patient’s inability to get longitudinal care from a family physician.
It is well documented that a doctor-patient relationship that is uninterrupted achieves the best health-care results, while episodic care by a different family doctor at each visit is less than ideal. Not having a family doctor has been proven to hasten death and increase the annual mortality total. In B.C. that means an extra 1,500 to 1,800 people die each year. Apart from this catastrophic number are the huge numbers of people living a less than optimal life because they are not being monitored by a family doctor who understands the patient as a whole.
The Canadian Health Care Act says that all Canadians must have access to physician services rendered by medical practitioners. Except in the case of an emergency, we are to discuss our medical needs with our family doctor prior to having access to a medical specialist or even having a prescription renewed.
Some 2,000 people turned out for the last rally on the grounds of the legislature. The next BCHCM rally in front of the Legislative Building (Victoria) is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22 from noon to 2 p.m. Learn more! Take action! Be included!
BC Health Care Matters believes that our government needs to do more. Everyone deserves a family doctor.
The writer is a Salt Spring resident and BCHCM board member.