Metchosin council mulled over several ways it could help tackle the doctor shortage crisis during its June 27 meeting.
Dr. Robert O’Connor, who works at Me’Chosen Medical, presented several options for council on how a rural municipality like Metchosin could attract and retain family physicians.
Among those included a formalized welcome service to introduce new doctors to the community, scholarships for students accepted into medical school and supporting a letter sent to the Union of BC Municipalities calling on them to lobby the province for action on the issue. Included in the meeting agenda was a letter from the City of Langford to UBCM – which comes after the District of Central Saanich passed a resolution to also send a letter to UBCM – to ask the province “to address this crisis with the urgency of any state of emergency.”
Metchosin councillors passed a resolution to back Langford’s letter but changed the wording slightly to emphasize working with family physicians on finding a plan to support all different types of doctor practices.
During a question period, residents suggested the district buy and rent out office space or housing for doctors setting up support for telemedicine in the community.
O’Connor said there were pros and cons to both suggestions, the district providing housing or office space could help, but it wouldn’t address the biggest issues of the fees family doctors are paid by the province for a general visit. He said the current fees have not kept pace with inflation and discourage medical school graduates from pursuing family medicine.
“What actually works for recruitment is if people had training in a small town or are from a rural area – so if we’re able to spike the punch bowl to have our local folks accepted in med school and some of those become family docs, that’s a very high yield investment,” he said during the meeting.
O’Connor himself moved to Metchosin and set up Me’Chosen’s office after studying and working in Newfoundland.