You will now be able to obtain a medical appointment in just a few clicks, since the First Line Access Counter (GAP) is now digital. At the same time, a standoff is emerging between Christian Dubé and the family doctors whom he wants to force to take care of more vulnerable patients.
What there is to know
- The First Line Access Counter (GAP) is now offered in digital version throughout the province.
- Quebec aims to recontact patients in less than 36 hours.
- Minister Christian Dubé wants to force family doctors to prioritize the care of vulnerable orphan patients.
“Before, the person had to call, often spoke to several people and waited a long time in line. Now patients can fill out the web form 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said in an interview with The Press the services coordinator, Michel Delamarre, whose mandate is to improve the efficiency of the GAP.
Until now, people waiting for a family doctor or registered with a family medicine group (GMF) who wanted to obtain a medical appointment had to contact the GAP by dialing 811 and selecting option 3 .
From now on, they will be able to go to Quebec.ca/GuichetAcces and fill out a questionnaire on their health needs. “Depending on its priority level, we generate a call to the person. The nurse can then assess his needs and direct him to the right professional, including the doctor,” says Mr. Delamarre.
The GAP, however, remains imperfect, admits Quebec, which says it continues to improve the service every week. There is sometimes a lack of medical appointments for patients, says Mr. Delamarre. To remedy the situation, he says he wants to improve access to professionals other than doctors, such as physiotherapists.
A return in less than 36 hours
Quebec aims to provide feedback to patients in less than 36 hours, after the form has been completed. However, the delay varies depending on the region and urgent cases are treated as a priority. “Some counters manage (to meet the deadline), and others have more difficulty,” however, indicates Mr. Delamarre.
GAP is currently observing an increase in requests. “Before, among the people who called, there was a very high abandonment rate,” says Mr. Delamarre. Maybe they were going to the emergency room or not treating their needs properly. Now, we receive 100% of requests, which means that we have increased the number of requests. »
The digital GAP is also available for people who have a family doctor. These patients may in particular be referred to a pharmacist or a support program or be informed of the best care at home.
The telephone GAP, however, still remains available for Quebecers without a family doctor. People who prefer this option, or who need help completing the digital form, can still dial 811, option 3. The telephone option is offered between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and public holidays.
Furthermore, Minister Christian Dubé wants to force family doctors to prioritize the care of vulnerable orphan patients, such as those suffering from cancer or other serious illnesses. The Minister of Health also wants to have access to data from medical clinics to “act” on the offer.
The Council of Ministers authorized on Wednesday to this effect a draft regulation aimed at implementing certain provisions of the Act to increase the supply of front-line services and improve supply management, adopted in June 2022.
“There has been a great effort by doctors for over a year to take on 900,000 patients who were (on the Family Doctor Access Window), but there still remain (…) 13,000 vulnerable patients, and they are the ones who need care from the doctor,” the minister explained on Wednesday.
In 2022, the Legault government and the Federation of General Practitioners of Quebec (FMOQ) concluded an agreement for the care of at least 500,000 orphan patients by deploying in particular the Front Line Access Center (GAP) which allows a patient without a family doctor to be cared for by a GMF, and not a single general practitioner.
A year ago, the number of vulnerable patients registered with the GAP was around 40,000, said Mr. Dubé.
“I want to bring this back to zero,” illustrated the Minister of Health, without specifying a timetable. Christian Dubé also does not support this new obligation with sanctions or penalties for family doctors.
The FMOQ welcomes Quebec’s decision to proceed by regulation “with incomprehension and great disappointment”. “Today we are trying to place the blame on family doctors when it is a mammoth failure in this matter,” indicated the president of the FMOQ, Dr.r Marc-André Amyot, who rather blames the health network for the poor distribution of orphan patients.
The FMOQ fiercely opposed Minister Christian Dubé’s law and even called for its complete abandonment. According to the union of family doctors, the legislative text “trampled” the normal negotiation process and was an “incomprehensible slap in the face” to general practitioners.
For its part, the College of Physicians was rather favorable to the intentions of Minister Christian Dubé on Wednesday. “We favor measures that will give the public more access to the first line of care or expand services in the territory. This is part of our vision of quality health care and the social responsibility of health professionals towards the population they serve,” it was noted.
The draft regulation will be published in the Official Gazette within two weeks. A 45-day consultation period will then follow its publication.