Penticton couple offer $1,000 'bribe' for family physician amid doctor shortage | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton couple offer $1,000 'bribe' for family physician amid doctor shortage

Penticton couple Michael Linklater (right) and his wife Teresa are looking for a family doctor.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Michael Linklater

A Penticton couple is offering $1,000 to any family physician or nurse practitioner who will take them on as patients.

Michael Linklater posted an offer on social media to donate the $1,000 to a charity of the prospective doctor’s choice on social media as part of a broader advocacy movement.

“I know no doctor with any ethics will publicly take a bribe to take on a patient,” he said. “It was intended to get attention and start up an important conversation. I’m trying to bring attention to this shortage crisis.”

Along with the so-called bribe, Linklater posted a photo of himself and his wife Teresa and publicly disclosed their ages and medical histories.

He's doing it to not only help himself, but also help what he said are countless others he's communicating with who are in desperate need of a family doctor, with no hope in sight.

“I think I have to be totally honest about it. There is no hiding around anything on this particular issue, we need medical help and so do many other people," he said.

“You have to put a face to it, and whether or not people agree with my process is not important. People have medical issues that are not being addressed and if there isn’t prevention and management of the smaller medical problems they could end up as fatalities.”

After Linklater’s family doctor left for northern B.C. to practise in a different specialty, he and his wife signed up to the waiting list with HealthLink B.C. to find a family doctor in their area.

“Some have been on the waiting list for four or five or seven years,” Linklater said. “It isn’t a list, it is a parking lot. I’m 73, I might not have seven years left to wait. Some people can get a doctor through friends or business contacts but the rest of us are waiting.”

READ MORE: Kamloops family still hoping for family doctor after eight years

Linklater suffered a heart attack in 2004, had a triple bypass in 2006, and had three stents put in in 2017. His 63-year-old wife has minor health issues. He works part time at Superstore moving boxes and working in the meat department.

While he doesn’t require a huge amount of medical care, he still needs preventative maintenance and monitoring through regular checkups and basic tests to manage cholesterol levels.

Linklater’s social media advocacy campaign started when he went to Costco to pick up a prescription earlier this month and realized he only had two months left before he’d need a medical professional to get it refilled.

“Without going through a walk-in clinic or using a Telus health app, I don’t have access to a prescription renewal and there isn’t a doctor to check me out to see whether the prescription needs adjusting. They will refill it as is and send me back out.”

Linklater said if something goes wrong medically, his only option is to phone a walk-in clinic or in an emergency situation go to the emergency department at the hospital and hope for the best.

“You can call a walk-in clinic 50 times before you get an answer,” he said. “They only have so much capacity in a day. They are providing a reactionary emergency service and right now with so many children with respiratory issues they are overloaded.”

READ MORE: B.C. pharmacists to renew, issue prescriptions as part of reworked health plan

On his social media post Linklater writes “we have honestly paid our taxes and contributed to the general good all our lives to find that when we need personalized care it is not available.”

“I'm concerned and angry, and not just for me, for everyone in this crisis,” he said. “I don’t feel entitled to special treatment, and every system has issues, but having people on waiting lists with no expectation of how long it’s going to be is just wrong.

“People who don’t have a family doctor are paying for the people who do. They are paying for a service other people are using that they can’t access.”

There's a shortage of family doctors across the country with fewer medical school graduates choosing family medicine due to inadequate resources, insufficient administrative support and stagnant payment models, according to the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Additionally, some physicians are choosing to retire from family medicine practice earlier than planned, partially related to the exhaustion resulting from working through the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: B.C. offers doctors new pay model, including $135,000 raise, to target health crisis

Fewer family doctors means reduced access to care for people across Canada, worsening health outcomes and a less efficient health-care system.

Last month it was confirmed doctors would get a raise under the province’s new compensation model to help address the crisis.

Family doctors are currently paid through a fee-for-service model but the new plan will also pay them for hours worked, the number and complexity of patients and administrative costs.

The agreement was developed between the Doctors of B.C., the province and B.C. Family Doctors and will start in February next year.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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