The Chair of the World Medical Association (WMA) has issued a strong warning against substituting doctors with other healthcare professionals or technology, saying the “patient-physician relationship demands a physician - not a substitute or surrogate”.
Speaking at a WMA/Israel Medical Association conference on the future of the physician, Dr Frank Ulrich Montgomery criticised governments for their hesitancy in “reacting sensibly” to the global shortage of physicians. He said the number of physicians is growing too slowly to compensate for the challenges ahead. “I firmly believe that if we do not actively address physician shortages now, the situation for patients will deteriorate in the years ahead,” he added.
Dr Montgomery was critical of organisations that promote the training of nurses and community health workers rather than fully trained physicians and said that while new technologies in the field of health are “tools in the patient-physician relationship”, they cannot be substitutes.
“Patients will always need physicians to be a source of professional expertise and empathy - perhaps even more so as sources of dubious online health content are called into question. “We have to maintain and fight for our position as serious information brokers to our patients,” he said.