Doctors' group warns new fee deal will send patient wait times through the roof
A group of doctors accuses the Ontario Medical Association of "complete surrender" in its negotiations with the government on a new fee agreement, and warns the deal will have a devastating impact on patient care.
Keith Leslie, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, July 21, 2016 10:47AM EDT
TORONTO -- A group of doctors accuses the Ontario Medical Association of "complete surrender" in its negotiations with the government on a new fee agreement, and warns the deal will have a devastating impact on patient care.
The advocacy group "Concerned Ontario Doctors," which says it represents thousands of physicians, is worried the deal the OMA signed July 11 will lead to longer waiting lists while more operating rooms sit idle.
Dr. David Jacobs, a radiologist and chair of diagnostic imaging for the OMA, says the association's council wanted binding arbitration to settle what he calls the "war" between doctors and the Liberal government.
But Jacobs claims OMA negotiators dropped the arbitration demand in backroom talks in order to reach a deal with the Ministry of Health and he says it will send wait times for surgeries and diagnostic procedures "through the roof."
Dr. Kulvinder Gill, an immunologist, is urging doctors to reject the tentative four-year deal, which would will increase the $11.5-billion physician services budget by 2.5 per cent a year, to $12.9 billion by 2020.
But Gill is concerned the OMA council could overrule any vote by doctors rejecting the deal and ratify it anyway.
"We have asked what percentage would be required for the OMA to require a 'no' vote and we haven't had an answer," Gill said Thursday.
"With the wording of this contract, physicians are essentially being forced to ration patient care, and that's not something that we're willing to do."
The OMA said in a release that the deal provides an additional $750 million in predictable base funding for physicians and guarantees there will be no additional cuts for this year.
The agreement also sets out $200 million in "permanent reductions in fees of physician payments," the OMA said in a confidential memo sent to the province's doctors that was obtained by The Canadian Press.
Health Minister Eric Hoskins issued a release saying the physicians services agreement will strengthen the long-term sustainability of the health-care system and increase access, quality and timeliness of care.
The Ministry of Health said wait times are down substantially in emergency rooms, for radiation treatment and surgeries for cancer patients, and for cataract surgeries, hip and knee replacements, and MRI and CT scans.