Family physicians need to be protected in a pandemic

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  • Robert Denson says:

    So just when patients need doctors the most they can wimp out and abandon the needs of their patients at their own discretion? I`ve had my double dose of the vaccine and my doctor still won`t see me.

  • James Dickinson says:

    Dear Sundeep,
    Your thoughtful article brings out serious issues. To what extent are Family Physicians, community based specialists and other community health care workers a part of the larger system? Are they totally independent private practitioners and therefore responsible only for themselves, or are they part of a public health care system with mutual obligations to and from that system? In Canada, family physicians are paid at a low level compared to hospital-based physicians, and are not allowed to charge more when their economic model is totally disrupted by an epidemic. They are thus susceptible to financial ruin as well as personal danger. Yet provincial hospital systems need the work of community physicians to continue their part of the system in order to continue running the hospitals efficiently. Thus there should be an obligation on provincial systems to either provide supports such as PPE, and sick leave for those unable to work due to quarantine requirements or reimburse those extra costs. Provincial ministries of health cannot on the one hand depend on the work of community physicians and other health workers, while limiting their earnings and imposing conditions on their practice, yet on the other hand throw them to the wolves in times of trouble.
    In 2009, when the H1N1 pandemic threatened, and we did not know how severe it would be, many community physicians in Alberta were uncertain about remaining at their posts if it became severe, though others planned to stick it out. (https://apfmj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1447-056X-12-3) The same issues are occurring now, but community physicians are still taken for granted.

    • Sundeep Banwatt says:

      Hi James,

      Appreciate you taking the time to comment and very much agree with your statements as they were the same reason I choose to write this piece. The idea of ‘duty’ and the very real issues of community based private primary care practice and the significance of not only it’s vital importance, but it’s integration within the public system gets often overlooked when focus on hospital based planning. As you read in the article, the second paragraph quote was my personal feeling from 2011 and when I looked at again a few months ago, I struck me that not much had changed for community practice in all this time and we have work to do in the present, but also the future. Appreciate the comments.

  • Bryan Adlam says:

    Wonderful Insight into an issue that needs to be addressed

  • Kathleen Ahearn says:

    This article is very Ontario based. Did you consider the situation in Alberta where the Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro, has launched open warfare with family physicians in a pandemic!

    • Sundeep says:

      Hi Kathleen. Well not sure exactly what you mean by Ontario based. But yes, I am a Ontario based practising Physician for 21 years. I have heard about the Alberta issues only through the news, but ‘open warfare’ against physicans during pandemic, in my opinion is probably not the best allocation of energy, but not quite sure how that impacts the article except to prove the point, as I hear moral is low and physicans may not feel safe and valued.

  • Sharon Bal says:

    Thanks Dr. Banwatt for this very thoughtful commentary. Excellent points and considered discussion.

  • Barry P says:

    Interesting article. As a pharmacist working in a community pharmacy, I would say that similar issues are a concern. I would suggest that the primary care workforce needs to be protected- not just family docs.

    • Sundeep says:

      Hi Barry P. I am a family doc, so I can only speak to my primary care experiences as a Self Employed physician in the community. Correct me if I’m wrong, but 80-85%of pharmacist are employed and have the larger corporation for support. But, I agree there are still many other issues out there.


Sundeep Banwatt


Sundeep Banwatt MD CCFP MPH is a family physician.

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