Dr. David Bach the new head of the Ontario Medical Association has made getting more doctors into the province his first priority. He has asked the provincial government to find out what would entice thousands of Canadian-trained doctors working in the US to come home.
Bach is trying to get back over nine thousand physicians who were trained in Canada, but now work in the United States. The OMA chief said in an interview Monday that the government needs to remove some barriers that keep expatriate MD's from coming home.
Bach, a radiologist from London, Ont., took over as head of the organization that represents Ontario's more than 20,000 doctors last weekend. Not being specific on his offers the government might make to doctors, he did mention some areas the province might consider. He said that the doctors are frustrated if they can't do the right thing for their patients. He stated that they would rather practice in an environment where they can get the tests they need and their patients can get into hospital (quickly), he said that when that is a problem here it makes it hard for doctors.
He also explained that one of the problems doctors coming back to Ontario have is the necessity to go to under serviced areas, and he felt that though there are many in the province some are in areas doctors would not want to go to. He explained that any requirement for doctors to go to a particular place would be a disincentive.
Acknowledging that the provincial government is taking measures to increase the supply of doctors, Dr Bach but felt that some of those are long term. He felt that the government needed to hear from expatriate doctors, of which an estimated 9,000 working in the U.S, about what would bring them back sooner. He was of the opinion that the government needs top be innovative.
In an OMA report last November it was said that the province needs at least 2,100 physicians and the report estimated that there are 1.2 million Ontario residents without a family doctor 10% of the population. The association were fearful that the number would grow close to 1.4 million by this year.
George Smitherman a spokesman for Ontario Health Minister pointed out in Monday that plans to lure doctors back to the province are already underway. David Spencer stated that that they have negotiated an important agreement with the OMA, which includes significant incentives. Lifting of the billing caps for specialists and making family doctors among the best paid in the country, were few of the incentives, cited by Spencer.