Reducing Barriers to Care
In years past, the summer was an opportunity for many of us to take some time to rest and recharge. It allowed us to reconnect with friends and family and ultimately, help us better support our patients. Unfortunately, that has not been the case in recent years due to the demands of the pandemic and its lingering effects on the health care system. The headlines we have seen this summer are concerning: the closure of rural emergency rooms on weekends due to staffing shortages; patients put in unconventional spaces due to a lack of space; and daylong wait times in hospital emergency rooms due to high demand. It is clear that timely access to care has been compromised and physicians and patients are feeling the brunt of it.
CPSO continues to work closely with our health care partners to improve physician supply in Ontario. The initial results from our updated registration policies have been promising. Since April, approximately 300 physicians who were already practising in Ontario have been positively impacted by the removal of the supervision and assessment burden. In addition, the updated pathways have yielded applications from 142 new family physicians and 250 U.S.-trained specialists. Overall, that is a 14 percent increase in newly licensed doctors in Ontario compared to previous years. I would like to thank the staff at CPSO, who continue to find innovative ways to address this urgent need.
We must also consider how to improve access to care through the lens of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a stark reminder of the impact of systemic racism, as well as the ongoing work that needs to be done to understand and address equity issues. I am proud of the EDI work that CPSO has done in recent years, including episodes of the “In Dialogue” podcast, articles in eDialogue, and decisions made by Council. We recently approved the Human Rights in the Provision of Health Services policy and a companion Advice to the Profession document, which clarify expectations and guidance to support physicians in providing safe, inclusive and accessible health services, including by incorporating cultural humility, cultural safety, anti-racism and anti-oppression into their practices. The advice document provides practical tips that I hope will be helpful in your practice.
In closing, I would like to congratulate family physician, Dr. Katherine Rouleau, who received the CPSO Council Award at our September meeting. Dr. Rouleau is a passionate advocate of primary care for patients in Ontario and around the world. Her palpable optimism about the future of primary care and the overall medical profession is an inspiration to all physicians, especially as we continue to deal with challenges in the health care system.
Dr. Rob Gratton, MD, FRCSC