Law & Governance

Law & Governance 12(4) August 2009 : 26-31
Discussion and Debate

More Doctors or Better Care?

Diane E. Watson and Kimberlyn M. McGrail


[This article was originally published in Healthcare Policy / Politiques de Santé, Volume 5, Number 1.]

The Canadian Medical Association's More Doctors, More Care campaign seeks to align physician supply targets with policy decisions elsewhere in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Using OECD data for 19 countries to assess the relationship between physician supply and healthcare outcomes, we have determined that there is no association between avoidable mortality and overall physician supply. Similarly, there is no relationship between avoidable mortality and general practitioners and family physicians per capita, specialists per capita, nurses per capita, doctors and nurses per capita or health expenditures per capita. These findings should move us to recognize that (a) more doctors will not necessarily translate into better healthcare outcomes for Canadians and (b) it is in Canadians' better interests that we instead focus on realizing opportunities to improve access to high-quality care and to ensure that changes in physician turnover do not threaten the current generalist-to-specialist mix.



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