Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Doctors' Group Warns New Fee Deal Will Send Patient Wait Times through the Roof

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Doctors' Group Warns New Fee Deal Will Send Patient Wait Times through the Roof

Article excerpt

Doctors warn fee deal will hurt patients


TORONTO - A group of doctors accused the Ontario Medical Association of "complete surrender" Thursday in its negotiations with the government on a new fee agreement, and warned the deal will have a devastating impact on patient care.

The advocacy group "Concerned Ontario Doctors," which says it represents thousands of physicians, worries the deal the OMA signed July 11 will lead to longer wait lists for patients while operating rooms and diagnostic machines sit idle.

"I consider this to be a complete surrender," said Dr. David Jacobs, a radiologist, chair of diagnostic imaging for the OMA, and a member of the association's negotiations advisory committee.

"I think any document that limits patient access to care is a surrender."

The OMA's 275-member elected council voted for binding arbitration to settle what Jacobs called the "war" between doctors and the Liberal government, but he said OMA negotiators dropped that demand to reach a deal with the Ministry of Health.

Doctors' representatives were not consulted by the OMA about the new fee agreement, which will send wait times for surgeries, MRI, CT scans and other diagnostic procedures "through the roof," added Jacobs.

"The negotiations advisory committee was informed of the resumption of negotiations, the termination of negotiations and the production of a new physician services agreement all within five minutes," he said.

However, OMA president Dr. Virginia Walley said the government refused to budge on binding arbitration, so negotiators took what they considered the best deal possible so the association could continue its charter challenge in court for the right to arbitration in future fee disputes.

"We continue to argue strongly for binding arbitration, but in the meantime this agreement provides stability for patients, stability for the system and stability for physician practices," Walley said in an interview. …

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