New Brunswick’s 12 podiatrists seeking prescription rights in the province

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March 12, 2015
For immediate release

New Brunswick’s 12 podiatrists seeking prescription rights in the province

FREDERICTON, N.B. – New Brunswick’s 12 practising podiatrists (‘foot doctors’) are seeking prescription rights in the province. The New Brunswick Podiatry Association recently issued a formal submission to government through the Strategic Program Review process based on cost savings to Medicare and improved patient care, which will also save the province money through increased prevention.

“Currently, patients are forced back into the Medicare system for relatively simple prescriptions,” said Dr. Sue Davidge of Fredericton, President of the New Brunswick Podiatry Association. “Patients either pay out of their own pockets or go through their private health-care insurance to see a podiatrist. We then force them back into the taxpayer-funded system for a prescription which can easily be written by the podiatrist. It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars and is redundant. As well, the unnecessary delay in getting the prescription may result in the patient’s medical problem getting worse.”

According to a business case included with the submission, the direct cost savings to the provincial government could be as much as $1.7 million over five years. The business case was prepared by David Campbell, who has since been appointed New Brunswick’s chief economist by Premier Brian Gallant. “On top of that, we must also factor in the costs of preventing what could be major complications from happening in the first place,” Dr. Davidge said. “By having prescription rights, we will greatly increase the probability of patients actually filling their prescriptions in a timely way instead of being sent back into the health-care system and being the victims of delays and long wait times, or worse still – not getting the prescription filled at all.”

“It’s a fact that some patients don’t get the prescriptions filled because it’s too inconvenient, meaning that their foot-care problems actually get worse,” she says. “Eventually, these problems often become acute and end up costing the provincial health-care system a lot more money – and it will only get worse with rising diabetes rates. It’s just so unnecessary.”

New Brunswick has Canada’s highest rate of diabetes which is linked to severe foot-care problems, especially among seniors. This means that proper and expanded foot care in the province will continue to get more important. Podiatrists currently play a major role in helping to solve the problem and want to strengthen that role by being provided prescription rights.

“Between 2013 and 2030, the number of persons aged 65 and over with diabetes in New Brunswick is expected to rise from nearly 26,000 to over 44,000, according to Statistics Canada,” Dr. Davidge says. “To put an extra burden on seniors and have them wait in hospital emergency rooms, travel to walk-in clinics or wait for appointments for their own family physician – if they even have one – can be alleviated by providing podiatrists with prescription rights.”

“Podiatrists are primary care practitioners,” Dr. Davidge said. “Currently, there are 50,000 New Brunswickers with no family physician. This could potentially delay onset of treatment. Since podiatrists require no referrals from a family physician, and since they are private practitioners, a patient can see a podiatrist in a timely manner with little or no wait time. This can reduce emergency room and after-hour clinic wait times and reliance on Medicare-only treatment.”

Through their education program, New Brunswick’s podiatrists have all received the proper training for prescribing medication. At their own cost, they would update this training and would each be mentored by a pharmacist for a set period of time. Podiatrist-specific pharmacology courses are available through the University of Toronto and the Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences.

Currently, podiatrists in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec have prescription rights, while Saskatchewan is seriously considering providing rights. Most U.S. states grant prescription rights to podiatrists, as do the U.K. and Australia.

“Podiatrists want to be part of the solution to New Brunswick’s financial challenges, and provide the best possible care and service to patients,” Dr. Davidge said. “The provincial government has a unique opportunity to formally recognize podiatrists as being on the front line of patient care by providing them with prescription rights. This will lead to healthier New Brunswickers and less costs in the long term.”

New Brunswick is the only province in Atlantic Canada which regulates the podiatry profession.


Media contact:

Dr. Sue Davidge, Podiatrist
New Brunswick Podiatry Association

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