The head of the B.C. Medical Association said Friday a new master agreement with the province will improve access to family doctors.
The province and BCMA announced a tentative four-year deal has been signed.
Details are not being released until ratification by the 10,000 doctors working in this province, expected by July. But BCMA president Dr. Nasir Jetha said an important part of the deal is measures to improve access to family physicians.
"One of the pieces in the targeted funding is to enhance patient access in rural areas," he said, calling it a "cornerstone."
"We have 200,000 people who have difficulty in finding a family physician. We're looking at these areas."
Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake said the tentative deal is significant because it comes during a time of provincial fiscal restraint. He also hopes the deal will bring better access for citizens to medical care.
"It looks like good news to me in terms of access to primary health care and rural physicians. That's something important to my communities."
Several thousand people in Kamloops rely on visits to medical clinics for primary health care due to the lack of family physicians here. Rural areas surrounding the city have long experienced doctor shortages.
In addition to family doctors, the master agreement also covers thousands of specialists working in this province.
Jetha said he is confident the deal will be well received by specialists, including those who chafed at the existing deal — anesthesiologists being the most notable. The group threatened to withdraw services in March until B.C.'s health authorities obtained an injunction in B.C. Supreme Court.
"We've listened to our specialists' challenges, including anesthesiologists. Our negotiators have worked very hard to ensure we have funding partnerships to improve retention and recruitment and fix disparities in fees."