Perhaps I’m a little too jaded but I tend not to put too much faith in government initiatives that promise big results. The provincial government’s ambitious GP for Me program had all the earmarks of such an undertaking, but thanks to the efforts of the Delta Division of Family Practice, my belief has been restored, at least for the time being.
Three years ago in the run up to the last provincial election, the governing Liberals allocated $132 million to create A GP for Me, a program with a rather lofty goal: to ensure every British Columbian has a family doctor.
At that time, the physician shortage being experienced throughout the province wasn’t much of an issue here in South Delta, which had been fortunate enough to enjoy a relatively stable roster of medical professionals. Several retirements changed all that and suddenly the GP for Me program became a talking point for many, particularly those patients who had been left in the medical wilderness.
We heard from more and more of these folks, many of whom were becoming increasingly anxious at the prospect of trying to navigate the medical system without the assistance of a family doctor. Some, particularly seniors, were downright frantic, bewildered by the fact they were being expected to travel that road alone.
We’d always mention the GP for Me program to them, but often heard back that they had already been in touch and that all the provincial initiative could do for them was put their name on an ever-growing waiting list with no timeline on when they’d get a doctor. It was well meaning, but it appeared this was another program that offered more hope than results.
News last week that eight doctors are on their way to South Delta blows that notion out of the water. Thanks to the recruitment efforts of the Delta Division of Family Practice, everyone who is on that waiting list, which sits at roughly 2,000, will have a family doctor by the end of this year or early in 2017 at the latest. If you’re without a doctor but not on the list, get on it because that’s how patients will be assigned to new doctors as they arrive in town.
Not everyone in B.C. has a GP as the initiative had hoped by now, but the local experience proves the program does indeed work.