RDOS staff recommend board vote not to fund primary care facilities, despite shortage of incoming family doctors

Funding for more clinics?

After over a year of ongoing discussions, staff at the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District are recommending that the board decline to get involved with funding new primary care clinics in the region or recruiting new family physicians. 

The board has vacillated in the past over whether to change their funding model and get involved, on the one hand noting a dire shortage of family doctors in South Okanagan communities, but on the other reluctant to hike local taxes to pay for helping provide primary care facilities. 

The South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice has been working with district staff and has presented to the board their findings that family doctors are more likely to relocate to a community if clinic space is already available.

According to the SOSDFP, there are roughly 12,000 citizens in the region without access to a general practitioner, with that figure only climbing. Of those currently seeing patients, a third are expected to retire within the next five years.

But staff have recommended the board stay clear of wading into helping fund clinic spaces, instead leaving that role to the province. 

The board began a discussion on the matter in December, with polarized views from some members, but ran out of time to complete it. They will complete the discussion and vote on the staff recommendation Thursday at the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen meeting. 

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