Thursday April 17, 2014

B.C.’s dearth of dermatologists requires collaboration to solve

Re: Clearwater Doctor Among Those Drawn by New Program (The Daily News, Dec. 6).

It’s all well and good for Clearwater to get a GP from the U.K., but shouldn’t the University of B.C. medical school be producing enough GPs for our province? UBC certainly isn’t producing enough dermatologists for B.C.

I have extreme reservations over stealing physicians from other countries.

People should realize that the past policy of poaching physicians from South Africa has translated into that country having to get doctors from Cuba now.

Meanwhile, many B.C. students have studied medicine abroad after being turned away from UBC and are experiencing great difficulty in returning to B.C., despite the great need for doctors.

Undoubtedly a great deal of the problem here lies at the feet of government for failing to fund UBC to a high enough level to train our children and provide for our population.

But wasn’t there a report by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada two months ago on unemployed specialists? Will UBC medical school
answer to the people of B.C.?

Interesting that when it comes to dermatology, the minister of health claims tight financial times, but not when it comes to general practitioners. General practitioners have some of the highest fees in the country, dermatologists the lowest.

With much fanfare, the government and the BCMA announced the A GP For Me program, with even more money thrown at GPs. There was no fanfare announcement of a No Dermatologist For You program, but it seems to be running.

The need for multiple parties to work together to correct the dermatologist shortage makes this a formidable task.

On Oct. 24, before dermatology was in the news, I sent a letter to the dean of the
UBC medical school, the president of the BCMA, and the minister of health suggesting a roundtable meeting with dermatology patient representatives from the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance to come up with tangible solutions to improve access to dermatologic care in B.C.

This was out of frustration from trying to meet with the Ministry of Health, meeting with the successive presidents of the BCMA and the BCMA board, all over many years, along with having met with the associate dean of postgraduate medical education and the dean of the UBC medical school.

These all bore no fruit.

In addition, I received no reply to this letter. The minister of advanced education also has refused to meet with me.

If we can’t meet, we can’t collaborate, and we can’t solve the problem. Where there is no will, there is no way.


president BCMA section of dermatology


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