The Community Physician Recruitment Committee

A Community Health Care Task Force was formed in 2001 to identify the issues and make recommendations regarding the physician shortage in Brant. A Physician Recruiter was hired in August 2002. The Recruiter position was vacant for a short period between 2006/2007. A new recruiter, Alice Preston was hired in the fall of 2007, and the current Community Physician Recruitment Committee started operating as of May, 2008.

Purpose/Mandate/Benefits of the Program

When the program began, we were considered an “underserviced area” by the provincial government. The area that the Province calculates as the designated area served by our primary medical services is the same boundaries as in both provincial and federal riding descriptions known as Brant. It reflects those people looking for services who either live or work in this area including Brantford, County of Brant and Six Nations.

The family physician shortage existed across the country, creating a situation where communities were competing for doctors. In May 2008, Brant had an estimated 24 family physician vacancies, according to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. We were one of 137 communities listed as underserviced in Ontario and at that time Ontario was short 766 family physicians.

We were also running into issues including a reduced interest in hospital work with fewer family physicians requesting privileges to take care of their patients in hospital, and a large number of physicians were at the end of their career. With the competitive environment, it made for a challenging road ahead.

The Committee was formed to assist in making Brant attractive, not only to family physicians and specialists, but all other healthcare professionals and support workers.

Key Priorities included:

  • Development, maintenance and assessment of a Medical Human Resources Plan of r Brantford, Brant County Six Nations
  • Increase lead generation by engaging physicians at all stages of training – developing the Mac-CARE Program (medical students learning in ‘Brant’); attending Medical Schools Health Professional Recruitment Fairs; attend other Family Medicine/Health Care Conferences and Research Days increasing exposure
  • Continue to promote the Community and showcase region through advertising, marketing material and site visits
  • Increase medical bursaries to support our local students (currently $12,000 for Medical students; $8,000 for Nursing students yearly)
  • Maintain close communication with those who support the process and who have interest in success for our community at large.
  • Ensure that all agencies such as the hospital, Family Health Team, Community Health Centre, etc., have equal access to potential candidates.
  • Support local hospitals with their recruitment and retention efforts to ensure that they have a level of specialist support for all hospital patient care services and for family physicians to have access to specialist care for their patients
  • Investigate and secure appropriate ongoing financial and funding sources
  • Investigate, develop and implement turn-key facilities
  • Provide information regarding potential employment of spouses/partners of health care professionals

In 2016, we were still considered “underserviced” and continue to have vacancies and pending retirements to fill. Community Family Physicians have a reduced interest in following their patients in hospital, so the BCHS continues to recruit Hospitalists.

We realize that not having access to healthcare practitioners is not only a serious healthcare issue impacting our citizens, but also an economic development issue impacting our business community. It affects employers’ ability to recruit new staff; and taking time off to sit in a clinic or Emergency Room impacts productivity in the workplace. Having the appropriate number of family physicians in the community removes the extra burden from our Emergency and Urgent Care Departments. Also, recruiting new physicians positively impacts our local economy with increased employment opportunities (medical administrators, nurses, etc.); housing; and other purchases.

The Committee has taken action to attract more medical professionals to our community; however, it is a moving target as our Physicians reach retirement age. We continue our efforts, with the support of the City of Brantford and the Brant Community Healthcare System, to ensure that every resident in Brant will have access to primary care in the future.

Committee Members

Committee Members include:  John Bradford (Chair), Alice Preston, Jim Hornell, David Prang, Janice Mills, Jim Steele, Murray Powell, and Richard Carpenter

Annual Patient to Physician Ratio

Estimated annual patient to physician ratio at the beginning of the program was probably closer to 2000:1; however, with new fee models and more interest in work-life balance, the ratio was lowered to 1380:1. Each Family Physician retirement projected, and it could be as high as 20 percent of our current community compliment over the next several years, reflects almost two times the number of new Physicians needed to cover the existing local population. The net result over the past 8 years is that the under-served population is increasing as the population of Brantford is growing and our calculations cannot accurately reflect the number of residents losing their GP through retirement or the new people coming from other communities. The reality is more likely a doubling of need as compared to our current population in the next several years. While we are encouraged by Physicians hiring qualified Physician Assistants or Nurse Practitioners to help them in addressing this issue, it is a long way from solving this issue in the meantime.

Statistics

Between 2002 and 2007, 11 family physicians were recruited to Brant, 7 Hospitalists and 27 Specialists.

As of May 2008 we had 64 Family Physicians practicing in Brant with 24 vacancies. Between May 2008 and August 2016, we recruited 47 Community Family Physicians, 22 Hospitalists, and 86 Specialists.

64        Community Family Physicians as of May 2008
24        Open Family Physician Vacancies as of May 2008
47        Family Physicians Recruited 2008-2016
17        Family Physician Retirements
9          Family Physician Left (Other Reasons)

3          Current Family Physician Vacancies in Brant
(We also have 4 pending retirements in 2017 that we know about.) Although this is not a true science, we estimate that our needs are somewhere between 3 and 7 Family Physicians.)

Estimated Number of Orphaned Patients

We estimate that the current number of residents looking for a family physician in ‘Brant’ would be between 4140 and 9660. 

Medical Recruitment Funding

  2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total
Contribution to Medical Recruiter 35,000 35,000 35,000 38,000 38,000 38,000 38,000 47,900 48,000 48,000 48,000 48,000 48,000 48,000 48,000 640,900
Physician & Nursing Bursaries 16,000 16,000 16,000 16,000 16,000 16,000 16,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 272,000
Rural Medicine Week     2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000                  
Recruitment Costs   9,500           42,100 42,000 42,000 42,000 42,000 42,000 42,000 42,000 345,600
Total Received for Program 51,000 60,500 53,000 56,000 56,000 56,000 56,000 110,000 110,000 110,000 110,000 110,000 110,000 110,000 110,000 1,268,500
 
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