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Doctors will close offices to protest administrative burden

Doctors will close offices to protest administrative burden

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More than 450 family doctors who are members of the grassroots Ontario Union of Family Physicians are planning to close their offices for part of Friday during a co-ordinated day of protest.

The closures are in response to a new initiative the OUFP says will create even more administrative burden for family physicians who already do an average of more than 19 hours of administrative work a week.

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Carp physician Dr. Ramsey Hijazi, speaking for the organization, said a new acuity pay system developed by the Ontario Medical Association as part of an agreement with the Ministry of Health will add to the burden faced by family doctors for no additional compensation. Meanwhile, he said, the province has abolished preventative care bonuses that provided funds so staff could remind patients of overdue cancer screening tests.

The OUFP says the Ontario Medical Association and Ministry of Health are “out of touch” with the reality facing family physicians.

Last week’s provincial budget included a new medical school in Toronto with a focus on family physicians, but Hijazi and others note that fewer students are choosing to go into family medicine and growing numbers of family physicians are moving away from comprehensive family practices. Hijazi, who will leave his practice this spring, is among them.

Hijazi said the new initiative to score patients and pay physicians based on acuity requires physicians to take a half-day online session to learn. He said the OUFP is encouraging doctors to do it either in the morning or afternoon on Friday and to close their offices, rather than doing it on their own time.

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The move, he said, will underscore how overburdened family physicians are one, which is one issue that drives many away from their practices and makes it less attractive for medical students.

Hijazi said it is frustrating to hear both the Ministry of Health and the Ontario Medical Association talking about decreasing the administrative burden on physicians and then to implement a complex policy that requires more time for physicians to understand for little gain.

“This is adding more work. That is why we are saying instead of doing it after hours, just close your office and do it then.”

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