GETTING ALL the parties together in a public venue to talk about walk-in clinics — an idea I pitched recently in a column — is selling like crap cakes.
In other words, it’s not exactly going viral. I suggested that, unfortunately, walk-in healthcare clinics look like they’re here to stay. That’s not a good thing, but they’re becoming the new normal.
Some people don’t like acknowledging that; they think we should continue to push for family doctors for everyone. That, of course, would be ideal but does anyone really believe the provincial government is going to catch up on finding enough doctors for the 20,000 or 30,000 (or whatever the real number is) people in Kamloops alone without family physicians?
Multiply that by the rest of the province and you see the scope of the problem, and how foolish it was for then-health minister Kevin Falcon to promise a few years ago that the problem would be solved by 2015. Terry Lake, his successor, has never made that promise, though he keeps getting it thrown in his face.
So, he’s beefing up the non-GP-For-Me approach on the North Shore. But there are immense problems with the walk-in clinic model that must be addressed.
My humble suggestion was simply that healthcare customers — they’re the ones who stand out in the cold in lineups and so on — be brought into the discussion. One way of doing it, I suggested, is a public forum.
From some of the reaction I’ve been getting, I have the impression people are so angry about walk-in clinics they just don’t want to talk about it. And it’s been pointed out to me that walk-in clinics are currently operated by private-enterprise doctors, not Interior Health, so the health authority wouldn’t have a role to play in such a discussion.
I never intended that Interior Health should fix walk-in clinics. That’s a job for everyone. For one thing, we seem to be moving towards a public healthcare system in which walk-ins are going to play a bigger role. My suggestion was that all the involved parties be part of the discussion on how to make walk-in clinics better, including the minister, the health authority, politicians, clinic operators and the public.
Why is that so tough?