AGM Speech transcript

Thank you Bill for that kind introduction.

All of us in this room know and appreciate the many tours around the province, the many meetings, the many media interviews, and the many hours you have worked to ensure members’ voices were heard. Doctors were well represented.

Not only did you work on our behalf by sacrificing time with your family, time with your patients…and probably sleep, but you also did it with humour, gusto, flair and a true desire to improve patient care and the physician experience.

From the membership, thank you Bill!

I’d like to introduce you to some very important people in my life – people whose support I very much appreciate and without their support, I wouldn’t be standing here right now. My wife Aase, a registered nurse from Denmark …who I met by chance on a diving beach in Thailand 16 years ago. Aase, have always been there for me and I’m indebted to your overwhelming and unconditional support. My two exceptional daughters Emilie and Laura.

And from my office – Helen Sr., Helen Jr., Emee and her husband Khaleed. My associate Dr. Ian Connell is away having a brief respite preparing himself the trials and tribulations of practicing with me at part-time. My father and his wife – Noel and Jane Webb were unable to attend and are at home in Surrey, England. As well, my mother Pam Webb is also unable to be here today. But I know she’s here in spirit from her home in London. Also, Dr. Rob Halpenny, CEO of Interior Health who I met on my first day at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Nancy Watson, secretary of the College of Physicians and Surgeons who registered me and found my first practice in Vancouver.

Also I am pleased to welcome the Vice President of the Resident Doctors of BC, Dr. Vishal Varshney And Nitai Gelber representing his first year medical student class at UBC Let’s please welcome them.

Colleagues, invited guests, family, and friends. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be your incoming President. I am truly humbled by this honour.

Many of you have seen me speak my mind in board meetings…You’ve seen me work for change in the governance of our association. I have at times been in strong opposition to the views of the Board. I’ll not apologize for that.

But I will say this. I believe in our association. Our association has so much to offer our members. I have seen the Board in the last number of years become leaders in championing change to bring about more accountability and transparency to our organization. Accountability and transparency are imperative for any organization to be successful, representative, and egalitarian.

I applaud you for this. And I will be a strong representative for you, as we move forward to continue some of the progressive work that you have started.

This work has included:

Term limits for board and committees. This means opportunities for other voices and different ideas.

The development of a conflict of interest policy. Helps with situations where members’ personal interests are – or can appear to be – in conflict with the Doctors of BC interest.

E-voting. This makes voting so much easier, efficient, and precise. We just had the highest election turnout in more than a decade – and as a result of e-voting we are able to have the timely run-off vote now underway!!

Board Chair. A call did go out to the full membership for this position. The response has been truly remarkable. Immediately after lunch today your new Board will choose from among 3 outstanding candidates – 1 internal and 2 external for this position. I am delighted that we have generated such interest and achieved such depth of engagement across our entire membership.

We have now set the stage and I’m looking forward to the Governance Committee’s Fall “green paper”- we are now well on the way to our membership’s desire for a more broadly supported smaller Board.

These are important steps for our association but like so many actions and ideas, they would not see the light of day if not for a very dedicated group of professionals – our association staff.
I have learned through personal experience just how much they do for us – the dedication, the long hours, the weekends, the commitment and the integrity. We’re a successful association because of the day-in-day-out efforts of our staff. Thank you for all you do.

Let’s acknowledge them.

During my term as your president there are two key concepts… values…tenets… that I will keep foremost in my mind and in my actions, and I hope all of you will too.

The first is “Collaboration.” The second is “Opportunity.” Let’s talk about Collaboration first. I want to assure you, we are working together…We are working collaboratively…to reach a consensus. In truth… in the PAST I may have been more direct than I would have liked. (Like many of you) I had become frustrated. I felt more needed to be done. I believed our association could do more and make a bigger difference. I felt the only way forward was to barrel ahead. My resolve to make a positive change has not altered, but my perspective on how to get there has.

We are now in the PRESENT. I have become very aware of the power of collaboration – collaboration with the Board and Committee Chairs, collaboration with our members… collaboration with government and health authorities, and most important, collaboration with the public. And collaboration is also the key to seizing the Opportunities we have before us.

Opportunity – is the second value I wish to bring to the forefront. We must take advantage of the opportunities that we have worked so hard to get. WE must act. We have a strong Physician Master Agreement that provides us with five years of stability. It provides additional funding for income disparity among specialists across Canada and within BC. It addresses workload challenges for all physicians. We all know doctors on the front lines of health care are in the ideal position to know what works best for patients. WE know how best to deliver health services to patients. We have been smart. We have positioned ourselves to do so much more for the profession, for our patients, and for the people of BC.

I am a realist. My time as president is but one year. I will contribute during my presidency by collaborating on current and future initiatives. Under the umbrella of collaboration and opportunity, there are several priorities I intend to focus on this year. I feel strongly about three different areas in which I will engage the membership, government, other stakeholders, and our board. These are vital to our association and in support of our strategic plan.

The first is motivating, invigorating, and energizing our younger members to take leadership in the health profession, and becoming involved with the Association. We are engaging younger members in committees and the board. They are stepping up. It’s very positive.

The second is Fairness – creating an even playing field in our work together, and for our patients.

And the third is how we use computers and technology – especially as they relate to realizing a universally accessible patient record.

Young Doctors

One of my key priorities in the coming year is to recognize and empower our medical students and residents. Our younger Doctors of Tomorrow are passionate, brilliant, and energetic. We are tapping into this generation, bringing them on board, teaching them to be leaders, and letting them flourish with their new tools and marvelous ideas!

Doctors of BC is engaging more and more with our young residents. We organize:
Resident graduation dinners to celebrate this major milestone in a young doctor’s life,

You know Bill Cavers claims these dinners have put on 10 lbs. but I’m way ahead on this – Adding weight requires some wardrobe adjustments so I am preparing for the dinners and today for the first time I have put on a pair of pink spotted blue suspenders! And I have a red pair for you too Bill.

We have incorporated 6 non-nboard members including 5 young doctors into our delegation to the Canadian Medical Association General Council meeting in August. We arrange speed dating for 1st and 2nd medical students (not that they need help in dating) The students spend 20 minutes or so talking to a dozen different doctors in different specialties… And student advocacy training that teaches them to be advocates and to stand up for themselves. Plus we support the annual Run for Rural Medicine, 1st year student orientation at UBC, the scholarship program, and much more.

But there’s still lots more we can do. All young doctors just starting out could benefit from being inspired, having a mentor, someone to look up to. I certainly did! All of us in this room have our own story of how we got here – why we chose medicine!

In my case growing up in South Africa, I was inspired by a number of doctors including my family’s own family doctor who made house calls, and went beyond the call of duty. This man looked after 4 generations of Webbs as if we were his own. He had a deep impact on me in terms of his compassion, dedication, and caring.

But the person who had the most impact was Dr. Francis Aimes who took on the South African Government, the medical establishment, academia, to task over the death of anti-apartheid activist Stephen Bantu Biko, and cover up by the authorities. She stood her ground on principle of medical truth and risked everything, and I mean everything. I knew her well. She took on the medical system and won. Her action was a catalyst- for changing the entire SA health system.

And my late brother, older than me, was the one who clinched the deal of my going into medicine. Not following my parents into Law, and instead joining him in medicine was one of the best decisions of my life. And those of you in this room – all of you – have the ability to provide the kind of leadership, mentorship and learning that shapes our future doctors.


The second area I want to focus on is Fairness – and how we can go about creating an even playing field.

As a collaborative leader I will engage our diverse membership. I will inspire them to work toward common goals, to vote in elections or referenda, to apply for and bring fresh ideas to our valuable committees, and to join our Board.

With more access, members are being engaged and involved with the Doctors of BC.
Our rates of turnout for elections, referenda, and committee chair and Board vacancies are improving. Our members young and old are becoming more engaged. Yes, we need to do more but as we have seen in the latest election the tide is turning – we have all just felt the surge.

We are, of course, venturing further afield with the opportunity to fulfill a unique vision, a collaborative vision – a vision never before tried in Canada. The PMA and the Association’s strategic plan are calling for a new vision – a vision specifically to help facilities based doctors – in which every partner including every CEO of every Health Authority, work together to benefit the health care system, patients and doctors.

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes creating a stronger regional presence. We are not just advocating for doctors, our Board has been charged to assist and train doctors to advocate for themselves. This way forward is now the greatest new investment by our Association.

It is now our specialist colleagues’ time. It is their time to be more engaged with the Association, in their communities, and with each other. They have our solid support and encouragement. Another aspect of fairness…involves the patient. Sometimes things happen to a patient, and therefore to their families, that are simply not fair.

Delays and access to care are plain and simply – unfair. The way forward is to be found through more collaboration. All this falls under our Strategic Plan. It calls for and develops highly engaged members – doctors who can work with partners in the healthcare system to exert a meaningful influence. We all need to step up to the plate. Let’s all accept the past, the successes and the mistakes, and move forward collaboratively. Together we can mold a profession of influence.

Universally accessible patient record

The final area I am focused on is physician leadership in innovation and information technology. I have a personal passion for technology, not because I have an aptitude. My wife,staff and children can attest to that. I truly recognize how important this is.

Since 2010 I have been and continue to be a member of the Vancouver Division of Family Practice’s IT committee. I applaud their vision to create care plans based on a full portrait of a patient’s medical journey, over their entire lifetime — or what’s become known as “one patient, one record.” No one disputes the benefits: better quality and convenience of patient care, increased patient participation, accuracy of diagnoses and outcomes, care coordination as well as efficiencies and cost savings.

But interoperability remains the monster to overcome. Collecting the data is one thing – freeing all the data from among many different sources and healthcare systems is quite another. It remains a most pressing challenge. We need to direct our energies to overcoming this bottleneck. Driving technology forward is an area where doctors can demonstrate leadership and be partners in progress.

We need to be leaders, to have an effective voice with government, Health Authorities, private ventures and all our other partners. We need to be a profession of influence in helping set both the priorities and the processes for the adoption of a universally accessible IT system. I strongly advocate for the development of a medical record system that can be accessed by the clinicians who need it and by the patients to better co-manage their conditions.

This of course will not only improve patient care, but also make it easier to provide quality care. We all want this.


In closing, I just want to say that my role as president is to be your representative, a grassroots physician who has been given a great privilege. We are starting down a new road. It is a road of opportunity. Collaboration is required to proceed and be successful. Resolve and standing our ground will also be required. As will dedication, support, insights, hard work and a little luck. The journey down this road continues long after my term as president.

My parents, both lawyers, may not have wanted me to go into medicine but they did have some sage advice – “What you start, you finish!”

Thank you for entrusting me with the office of president of Doctors of BC.

And thank you for your support in the year ahead.

Doctors of BC Annual Meeting 2016

Past President Dr Charles Webb reflected on his year in office, mentioning the significant progress made regarding young member engagement and the continuing work toward a new governance structure. Dr Webb also reiterated his thanks to the organization’s staff, who made serving his term as president a pleasure, noting that the small crowd in attendance at the meeting was a testament to members’ satisfaction with the association and a positive reflection of the thorough coverage and dissemination of information that Doctors of BC provides to the membership throughout the year.

2015-2016 Annual Report

My year in review

Copy from: BCMJ

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to my year as your president. It has been an exciting time, one that provided me the opportunity to engage with colleagues from all spectrums of our profession—family physicians, specialists, residents, medical students. It has truly been a privilege to represent the dedicated and hardworking doctors in this province.

I began my year by focusing on two key values: collaboration and opportunity. As promised, I kept these values foremost in my mind and in my actions. They were the foundation that guided me as I undertook my priorities for the year.

One of those key priorities was to recognize and help empower our medical students and residents. Our doctors of tomorrow are our future. Their passion and enthusiasm is inspiring, especially around the use and integration of IT. They are an engaged group, persevering toward finding innovative solutions to health care challenges and pushing our profession to new heights. I also had the joy of interacting with the youngest members of society through our Be Active Every Day campaign. Speaking to elementary school kids about the importance of being active and eating healthy foods, and providing them with promotional items to make being active more fun, was a real delight.

As your president I was able to attend a number of memorable meetings between Doctors of BC and our different partners that were remarkably effective, collaborative, and worthwhile. One such meeting was the Medical Services Commission’s annual planning session. It was refreshing to see the collaboration between doctors, government, and the public in our quest to find better outcome-based patient-centred care, all while respecting physician autonomy. Another opportunity was addressing colleagues, stakeholders, and other health care providers at the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use learning session. It was rewarding to help highlight the important work of this collaborative to ensure BC’s children and youth have access to the services and supports they need. A challenging moment for me was stepping out of my comfort zone and speaking at the annual convention of the Trial Lawyers Association of BC. The topic of conversation was how our two professions could build a better working relationship, and I had the privilege of sharing creative ideas and possible solutions. Our groups are similar, and we share the goal of achieving a positive outcome for our patients and clients. It was a daunting experience but also a very rewarding one.

As I step out of my role as president I think ahead to the hopes I have for our organization. Over the year I have watched the Board open up to the idea of change—change in the Board’s format and change in how it governs our association. My hope is that the Board will embrace progress and a revamped Board will emerge: one that can respond quickly and be extremely effective. I also hope to see continued success in the expansion of medical staff associations so that our facilities-based physicians have a meaningful voice in improving patient care and their professional working environment.
This is also a time to reflect on the future of our profession. BC’s population is continuing to age, resulting in a more complex patient population. In response, I hope our profession will embrace the shift toward more team-based care, including the successful integration of health services and all health care providers with physicians at the helm.

It has been a true honor and a humbling experience to serve as your president this past year. I have learned, I have grown, and I have loved every minute. I believe in our organization, and after a year as your president I am confident that we will continue to work together to make a positive difference for our patients, our health care system, and our profession. Moving forward we will face challenges and we will face change. Embracing both, and doing so with a united front, will make us stronger. As the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Thank you for your support this past year. It has meant a lot to me.

—Charles Webb, MBChB
Doctors of BC President

B.C. initiative to find a GP for every patient lags

by Tristan Bronca on June 23, 2015 – Medical Post

Dr. Charles Webb says more young doctors are signing up for Doctors of BC committees.

When the GP for Me initiative was announced in 2010, the health minister at the time made the rather ambitious proclamation that every British Columbian who was looking for a family doctor would find one by 2015. Five years later, 700,000 British Columbians remain without a doctor and 200,000 are still actively looking.

Now, the joint initiative spearheaded by the government and Doctors of BC has drawn criticism. Dr. Bill Cavers, the outgoing president of Doctors of BC, even admitted that the program has slid backwards. At the outset, 13% of British Columbians didn’t have a family doctor, but in April Dr. Cavers told the CBC that figure had risen to 16%.
“It’s a work in progress,” Dr. Charles Webb, the incoming president of Doctors of BC (formerly the British Columbia Medical Association), told the Medical Post in an interview. Still, despite acknowledging the shortcomings of the program, Dr. Webb was unabashedly optimistic about it.

“The bottom line is that 95% of patients who have been actively looking for a family physician have gotten one,” he said. He couldn’t say when the program would meet the target that was originally set for this year, but he did suggest that GP for Me was over its initial growing pains.

“At one point . . . the GP for Me project required an enormous amount of research into where doctors were working, how they were working, and what space they might have in their practices to take on new patients,” Dr. Webb said. “More than that, (the association was looking at) what those doctors would need to become more efficient, to attach more patients to their practice and service them well.”

Now there are attachment initiatives in 33 of the 34 divisions of family practice across the province. With Dr. Webb’s term as president just beginning, he’s laid out several priorities in hopes of bringing the province closer to accomplishing its seemingly distant goal.

When Doctors of BC reached its last master agreement, the province set aside funding for processes to ensure patients are referred to doctors who are in a position to take them on.

“They’re using staff at the divisions to make sure a patient is a good fit for the doctor they’re being referred to,” said Dr. Webb. “It wouldn’t be like in the middle of the day when you’re seeing a patient every 10 or 15 minutes and suddenly you’ve got a brand new patient in front of you who’s complicated, difficult, with long-term problems.”
Instead, in some of the family practice divisions, the process has become more sophisticated. Doctors who participate in the initiative are evaluated (Dr. Webb will also participate in this) while patients go through an intake process to have their medical needs assessed. Then, with their consent, a package containing their background information is sent to a physician who has been deemed a good fit, giving that physician time to incorporate the information into an electronic record before the first visit.

In B.C.’s last master agreement, the province also allocated $2,000 to $3,000 per doctor in B.C. to bolster clinic staff. While that amount is not enough to bring on an additional full-time staff member at an individual practice, the additional funding will support longer hours for clinic staff or a part-time staffer. The idea is that if a nurse spends 10 to 15 minutes with a patient, the physician may be able to conduct an entire visit in five minutes, Dr. Webb said. “If it was just me on my own, it would take me a half an hour to sort that patient out,” he continued. The result is not only a roster with space for additional patients, but better care for the patients already there, said Dr. Webb.
Dr. Webb’s direction

Dr. Webb has oriented his presidency around ideals like engagement, opportunity, fairness and collaboration. But if his politics are any indication, these abstractions are not just guiding principles. They’re goals he wants to help the organization achieve.

During his inauguration speech at a luncheon following the Doctors of BC general assembly, Dr. Webb said delays in access to care are, plainly and simply, unfair. His proposed solution is greater collaboration, one of the keys to which seems to be engagement.

There have been several recent developments that constitute marked progress on these fronts. Several health authority CEOs recently signed off on joint committees, allowing government health representatives and physicians to come together to address local issues in each of the divisions—something that, according to Dr. Webb, has never been attempted before in Canada.

He also pointed out that young doctors and medical students have also begun to apply for committee and board positions within Doctors of BC, and the voter turnout in the last election of 20% was the highest in the last 15 years.
All this is good for the association’s strategy, which requires “highly engaged doctors who can work with partners in the health-care system to exert a meaningful influence,” Dr. Webb said in his speech.
It might not have an immediate or measurable impact on the number of patients who have a family doctor, but Dr. Webb seems to think things are moving in the right direction. As he said just one day earlier: “I couldn’t be coming in at a better time.”

To a great new year

by Colin Leslie on December 16, 2014

One of the gifts of being a journalist is that you get to attend a range of events for the people you write about. I have two observations I didn’t get a chance to make earlier in the year.
First, physician organizations are clearly struggling with how—and how much—to keep members focused on the organizations’ strategic plans.

At the Canadian Medical Association’s annual meeting this summer, the board announced it’s considering making delegate motions at General Council advisory to the board, rather than binding.

A month later, I was at the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) annual meeting in Kingston, Ont., where the most extensive debate was over a position paper opposing the “criminalization” of HIV infection. The position paper passed narrowly in the end, but I found it interesting when CFMS president Bryce Durafourt said he opposed the motion because the issue was outside the scope of the CFMS and unrelated to the group’s strategic plan.

The challenge your organizations face seems to be in allowing a forum for the (often more) lively discussions that come out of the grassroots (and from individual doctors) while still focusing on core strategic directions. So a forum—but still with some punch. There have to be stakes here. Like maybe one pillar—say one-fifth—of your organization’s goals for the year come out of a “wild card” new initiative from the grassroots.

Second, I was struck this year by how often you elect reformers to high positions in your medical associations. At the Doctors of BC (formerly the BCMA) annual meeting in June, Dr. Charles Webb was elected president-elect of the group. Dr. Webb originally rose to prominence as the co-founder of B.C. Doctors for a Democratic Future, an organization of reformers concerned about how the association was being led.

We’ve seen this pattern before: Dr. Suzanne Strasberg and Dr. John Tracey were both once board members with the Coalition of Family Physicians of Ontario, which served as a watchdog group on the Ontario Medical Association (the coalition has changed its name to DoctorsOntario). Dr. Strasberg went on to be an OMA president and was just appointed chair of MD Physician Services. Dr. Tracey went on to serve on both the OMA and CMA boards.

To a great new year—of medical politics and more! MP

Follow Colin Leslie on Twitter at @MedicalPost

New leaders in challenging times!