The truth about GMF’s
“Created to improve access, Montreal clinics often turn away patients,” published in the Gazette on February 15, 2017, is a misleading and misrepresentative article. It makes false assumptions and reaches incorrect conclusions.
The article states that “there are 86 family medicine groups in Montreal that rely on government funding to stay open longer than private doctors’ offices.” The author contends that “fewer than half the clinics are actually open seven days a week.”
The reality is GMFs are neither super-clinics nor general walk-ins. They are grouped, private, family medicine practices that offer care to a defined, registered patient population. Emphasis is placed on assiduité, fidélisation and prise en charge. In other words, GMFs prioritize their own patients while super-clinics or GMF-reseau (known previously as cliniques-reseau) are designed primarily for patients who do not have a family doctor.
These distinctions are available at: http://www.msss.gouv.qc.ca/professionnels/statistiques-donnees-services-sante-services-sociaux/acces-premiere-ligne/ and http://sante.gouv.qc.ca/systeme-sante-en-bref/groupe-de-medecine-de-famille-gmf/.
GMFs do not all receive the same funding and are not expected to maintain the same number of operating hours or days. While larger GMFs are open 68 hours/week, smaller GMFs only need to be open 5 or 6 days/week.
Yes – GMF walk-in clinics generally extend appointments to non-registered patients whenever possible. “All” patients can come irrespective of age, gender or medical history. Clinics, doctors, nurses are all working to improve access and help patients in need. But the GMF is not a “general” walk-in clinic – and hasn’t been since their inception in the early 2000s.
At the end of the day, the article should have asked – “can patients obtain timely appointments with their own family doctor?” Bottom line – register with a family doctor.