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Doctors' college called undemocratic

The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons has acted undemocratically by coming out in favor of user fees without asking the views of the doctors who are its members, says a group of doctors pushing for medical reform.

Philip Berger, a member of the steering committee of the Medical Reform Group of Ontario, representing 90 physicians, said the college's advocacy of user fees is "the first time we have had solid evidence that the college is pro-doctor and not interested in serving the interests of the patients."

The college licences doctors to practice in Ontario and is the disciplinary body before which patients may take complaints. Membership is compulsory for all physicians in the province.

In a brief to the Health Council Conference being held in Toronto this week, the college said some
form of "direct-user participation in payment" for at least some services is necessary to avoid substantial increases in public financing for health Care.

"Future health policy should shift more responsibility for personal health and the selection of health services, together with some component of the direct cost to the individual," the college's brief said.

A resolution passed by a meeting of the Medical Reform Group called on the college to "immediately retract" its position in support of user fees. The resolution said that the college ought to have canvassed its members for their opinions before speaking out on an issue of such importance.

"A substantial body of expert opinion based on scientific evidence holds that user fees are in direct conflict with the public interest," the Reform Group said.

Globe & Mail, April 26, 1983

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