I’m writing to you today about the tens of thousands of British Columbians who visit licensed naturopathic doctors (NDs) for primary care.
Although most NDs are in large urban areas, demand for NDs across B.C. is growing rapidly. Most importantly, NDs in
rural areas are meeting a need and desire for patient-centred primary care.
You may have seen the provincial government’s recent announcement of the “A GP for Me” initiative, intended to find solutions to the GP shortage which is more acute in rural
What your readers may not be aware of is that there are six primary-care NDs already practising in Courtenay/Comox. These local physicians are a few of the over 500 licensed NDs in B.C., all of whom can (and do act) to meet the demand for primary care.
While the care that B.C.’s NDs provide is generally not covered by the provincial Medical Services Plan (MSP), their focus on overall wellness, providing primary care with attention to disease prevention, diet, environment and health history, is a draw to patients (most of whom have extended health coverage). NDs can also prescribe scheduled drugs, when
and if appropriate.
In 2008 the provincial Liberal government, under then-Minister of Health George Abbott, made two Throne Speech commitments to naturopathic physicians.
The first, limited prescription rights, was realized in 2010. The second, access to B.C.’s privately owned but publicly funded medical laboratories, has yet to be acted upon.
We believe that NDs can and already do address the shortage of GPs by offering comparable services. I would like to
encourage your readers — in support of the NDs already practising in your community as primary care providers — to contact their local MLA and voice support for diagnostic
access for B.C.’s NDs.
Dr. Deborah Phair,
BSc (Pharm), ND, RAc
Editor’s note: Dr. Deborah Phair is the B.C. Naturopathic Association president.