(File Photo)

The BC government has announced it has hired 54 new doctors to provide full-service primary care in communities throughout BC, with another 60 hires expected soon.

Earlier this year, the province revealed it would be offering a large signing bonus as well as medical training debt forgiveness to new family doctors who agreed to work in BC for at least five years.

They’re the first newly graduated doctors hired under a new incentive plan designed to solve the shortage of family physicians.

They will earn $295,4570 in the first year, plus receive a $25,000 signing bonus, and debt forgiveness for medical training of up to $50,000 in the initial year and up to $20,000 a year over the next four years.

Additionally, doctors will receive a $75,000 payment to go towards the overhead costs for their host clinic.

Along with the 54 contracts signed, more than 60 family physicians are in discussions about suitable clinical placements and the terms of the contract.

According to the province, nearly 140 new family physicians have expressed interest in the incentives.

“The incentives are part of BC’s Health Human Resources Strategy to improve and increase access to health care for people. Other actions to help patients get continued access to primary care services include $118 million in stabilization funding to support family doctors in the province,” the province said in a statement.

To help stabilize the doctor shortage and closures in BC, the province is handing out $118 million in short-term stabilization funding to family doctors to help them with operating costs of primary care and walk-in clinics.

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.

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