In a letter to the editor published in the December issue of the BCMJ [2016;58:551-552], Dr Gerrard Vaughan, president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, and Dr Heidi Oetter, College registrar, state: “Fee guide matters are not within the purview of the [College]. That is entirely the responsibility of Doctors of BC, the advocate for the profession.”
Yet in the same issue [2016;58:581] Dr Keith White, chair of the Doctors of BC Patterns of Practice Committee, quotes the College guideline on access to medical care, which states: “It is not acceptable for physicians to charge patients a private fee in order to access an initial medical visit.”
The mission of the College of Physicians and Surgeons is “Serving the public through excellence and professionalism in medical practice.” The College appears unconcerned about the growing number of people who can no longer find a family physician who will provide ongoing professional patient care.
Perhaps if traditional family practices could bill like dentists, podiatrists, physiotherapists, or chiropractors and expect a reasonable fee for the services they provide, young physicians would be willing to take over older physicians’ practices. The regulatory agents for these other health care professions, and British Columbians as a whole, seem to have no concerns about the extra charges they pay for those services.
—John Sehmer, MD, MSc
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