B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix speaks at a Penticton Regional Hospital patient tower construction milestone event before heading down to tour Oliver’s South Okanagan General Hospital. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News)

Health minister to look at pay plan for South OK docs

South Okanagan doctors will be putting forth applications for alternative payment plan funding

B.C.’s health minister says he would be willing to consider an alternative payment plan for rural South Okanagan doctors, which could provide more financial stability.

Adrian Dix paid a visit to rural South Okanagan on Friday to hear from locals their concerns about health care in the region, after he stopped at a construction milestone event at Penticton Regional Hospital’s upcoming patient tower.

Health care has long been a concern for residents of Oliver and Osoyoos, but blew up over the summer, after a number of potential and real closures of the emergency department.

Related: Important milestone for Penticton Regional Hospital

“I think Interior Health is doing a good job addressing them (concerns) and fortunately, for example, there are more doctors in the region, now, and in Oliver, than there were a year ago,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said, referring to a new doctor in Oliver and another in Osoyoos recently added.

“That said, there are ongoing concerns, so rather than hear about them from a distance, I’m going and meeting with health-care workers, with nurses, with doctors, with people who are providing care at South Okanagan hospital.”

Dix said because of the precarious, new government — the B.C. NDP form a minority 41-seat government, with support of three B.C. Greens over the B.C. Liberals’ 42 seats — he has not been able to travel outside of Victoria too much since taking office.

Related: Osoyoos gets funds for health-care needs study

Dix said he’s heard doctors in the area calling for implementation of the alternative payment plan (APP) in the rural South Okanagan, which would provide an alternative to the fee-for-service mode of pay.

According to the B.C. government website, APP would provide more stability in doctors’ pay, as well as provide compensation for things like consultations over the phone. The website says more funding has been added to that program over the years.

Dix said he would be considering applications for APP funding in rural South Okanagan.

“They’re developing some proposals, and I think they’re supposed to be ready to forward, so we’re going to take a look as well,” he said. “I’ve heard them on all those issues as well.”

Related: Another ER closure at SOGH



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