(File Photo)

With the ongoing doctor shortage crisis in BC, the province has announced it is committing $118 million in funding to help ensure clinics remain open.

The announcement was made during a press conference held by Health Minister Adrian Dix who was joined by Doctors of BC president Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh.

They say the funding will help ensure patients have ongoing access to primary care.

The “stabilization funding” will go toward family doctors throughout BC to ensure British Columbians have continued access to primary care services.

“Rising operational costs are affecting their ability to provide patient care, and we’ve been working closely with Doctors of BC to find solutions. This interim stabilization funding to family doctors is a key action in supporting their care to patients as we work to finalize a long-term solution this fall,” said Dix.

During the announcement, Dix also revealed the funding is one phase in an expansion of a new primary care compensation model that will be revealed this fall.

The funding announced today will be distributed over four months, from October 1st to January 31st of next year, and will support family doctors and medical clinics with their operational business costs.

Of the $118-million fund, $75 million will come from the Ministry of Health and $43 million will come from the General Practices Services Committee, a group co-chaired by the ministry and Doctors of BC.

“This is an important first step to help doctors keep their practices open for patients over a four-month period until we have a longer-term solution to the very real problems in primary care,” said Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh, president of Doctors of BC.

“There is still hard work ahead of us to achieve a new payment model that recognizes the pressures of rising business costs and that recognizes the value of family physicians and the time and complexity of providing longitudinal patient care.”

According to the province, around 3,480 family physicians in the province have their own practices, while 1,110 work in walk-in clinics, and all will be eligible for funding.

That represents more than 70% of family doctors working in the province.

The funding is available to family doctors who provide ongoing services to patients and pay overhead costs.

Primary care clinics, including walk-in clinics, committing to remaining open and maintaining consistent clinic hours can also apply for funding on behalf of the clinic and its doctors.

Currently, nearly one million people in BC don’t have a family doctor.

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