In the News: Letter to the Editor – Dr. Jennifer Balfour

Enormous barriers to providing care

Re: “Esquimalt doctor limits her practice to those 50 and older,” May 24.

I am sympathetic to the families who have lost access to Dr. Sarah Truelson, another family doctor who is limiting her practice to manage the firehose of demand that faces every single health care practitioner in this city and region, whether they be family doctor or specialist.

There is a person-power crisis occurring regionally and nationally in pediatric specialist care that was predicted more than 15 years ago, there is lack of access to other generalist specialities such as internists and psychiatrists, and a maternity care crisis locally, already documented in this newspaper.

Oversimplifying the problem to “There is a shortage of GPs because GPs can’t get locums because specialists make more money” is unhelpful, not always accurate, and misses completely some of the shared complete system failures that require attention for sustainable, ­meaningful solutions to our current ­medical practitioner human resource crisis.

Physician extenders, system support for office staffing and practice management, specific targeted attention to better processes of triaging and intake work, support strategies for followup, expert improvement in virtual health options and streamlined processes for tracking lab and radiology results, innovations in coordinating care in the face of high medical and social complexity are all desperately required.

Doctors, in whatever field they practice, are spending excess time filling out requisitions, triaging demand, trying to ascertain who is the sickest, trying to patch holes in systems of care, and generally practising with a sense of hypervigilance and impending doom daily.

Pitting specialists against family doctors, and oversimplication of the problems down to simple dollars being in the wrong pockets, is an unhelpful narrative, misses the enormous barriers to practice and providing care, and avoids real solution-finding and system re-construction.

Dr. Jennifer Balfour, MD



One thought on “In the News: Letter to the Editor – Dr. Jennifer Balfour

  1. I fully agree with Dr Jennifer Balfour; we are all in this together and should support each other rather than playing each other off against one another.

    It seems the only solution is longer days so we can work more hours as there are not enough of us. We all know this is not possible.

    I am really hoping that more of our colleagues will join our forces again to create a stronger physician army against the problem of the doctor’s shortage. That is the whole purpose of better financial incentives after all.

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