Since our current doctor here in British Columbia is retiring it’s time to hunt for a new one, this is proving to be extremely challenging. I am going to record that journey on my blog.
The Current Situation
Like most places, there is a shortage of doctors in Canada. There are 1 million people without a doctor in British Columbia, and with a population of just over 5 million that equates to around 20%, that is a vast number. I’m confused about what politicians are doing to address this issue, maybe not a lot.
People I know are facing harsh consequences in this situation but also as a result of unprofessional health care providers. These are some small quotes on what I heard:
- “My neighbour is disabled and needs a doctor’s sign-off on medication that is keeping her alive, however, without a doctor, this is an ongoing nightmare”
- “I had no choice but to go with my current doctor but he only works half a day a week so it’s impossible to get an appointment with him.”
- “I book an appointment with my doctor and wait around for 1 hour and 30 minutes but he never turns up as he decides it’s not worth coming in.”
- “My doctor is 28km away, the nearest one I could find, and I can’t drive that far anymore due to my age.”
- “I have to go to a walk-in clinic for my medical needs but they only allow me 10 minutes for a consultation for 1 issue only. It’s impossible to get an annual check-up in that amount of time.”
Finding a Doctor
The system of finding a doctor is also broken. For example, in the UK there is one central place to look for doctors that are taking on new patients, it’s very easy and centralized. So in BC:
- There are multiple websites to find a doctor. None of them seems up to date. There is no consistency across the province.
- There is a mix of dodgy websites that aren’t even run by an official entity, one I found even asking for a subscription, with people posting tips about doctors that are available. In Google, these sites are even ranked higher than official government entities.
- The BC College of Family Physicians suggests a few methods. One is the Pathways Medical Care Directory but the information on there is not up to date and as I’ve found missing huge chunks of information are missing. Another is the local Division of Family Practice but when going on their mailing list you never hear of new doctor alerts just irrelevant information.
- Medimap is another route in which I have found one lead, but that practice is many kilometres away.
- Asking family or friends is another route, to join a practice as a patient, but no one wants to divulge who their doctor is these days. They assume they will become too busy to get to see themselves.
- Other people have found that visiting a walk-in clinic 4 times, and the issues can be made up, means the doctors there are legally obliged to take you on. Sounds like a very dodgy route and not sure if this one is even true. I would have thought this is not the best way to find a doctor.
One thing we learnt before your current doctor goes it’s worth asking if they will retain their license, as long as they do the prescriptions they supply can be authorised by pharmacies. So, just prior to them leaving it might be worth asking for an extended prescription. At least that will provide some comfort room if you can’t find a doctor immediately.
So, soon I will discuss my first experience in trying to sign up with a doctor, it was a most unpleasant experience.