Lack of doctors causing frustration for patients

One Sidney resident writes about his experiences trying to get care at local walk-in clinics

A Sidney resident has written a letter to Minister of Health Adrian Dix, highlighting the “absurd” wait times and experience many patients without a family physician on the Saanich Peninsula currently experience.

Although thousands of people across B.C. pay the same taxes as their fellow citizens, like Jeremy Arney they are not experiencing the same level of care in what some are saying has become a healthcare lottery.

“For whatever reason, I have had two family doctors quit in the last five years,” he writes, adding, “as there is such a shortage of medical doctors in B.C. I have not been able to find a regular family doctor, as the few remaining have a full list of patients and are not taking on any more.”

ALSO READ: Downtown Victoria medical clinic faces closure because of doctor shortage

He goes on to explain how large numbers of patients have to rely on drop-in clinics, with one he recently attended in Sidney not accepting any more walk-in patients by 9 a.m. To illustrate his difficulties, he says he went to another Peninsula clinic but found it delayed opening by four hours due to a lack of medical staff. Recently when he went there, there were 15 patients seated by 8:45 a.m., with another 20 in line.

So he tried another clinic and “had to wait for 165 minutes for a three-minute treatment.” He adds, “there were three receptionists, no nurses and one doctor who was simply swamped, and indeed was ready to leave a poorly equipped clinic, which was only one of the four she attends.”

As B.C. family physicians earn an estimated average annual income of $130,000 a year, compared to the average annual worker’s salary of $60,000, why aren’t family doctors flocking to fill the many vacancies?’

Doctors say there are two systems that pay doctors: fee-for-service and salary-based sessional models. Each has its advantages and drawbacks, but family physicians tend to use the fee-for-service model. However, the patchwork of systems doctors and care providers have to navigate doesn’t cover overheads, other staff salaries, pensions, building costs and equipment costs – or the large student loans many accumulate while in medical school. Each appointment pays $33 for patients under 50, and so all costs come proportionally out of that figure.

ALSO READ: Peninsula youth clinic experiencing growing demand

Shawna Walker is the executive director of Shoreline Medical Society, a non-profit foundation that runs two clinics, providing the infrastructure for doctors and thus removing some of the cost burdens. It has 16 doctors working for it and is in the process of expanding its Sidney location. She notes the problem lies with a complex and unhelpful system.

“There is a doctor shortage across Canada,” she says, adding “but what are the constraints facing the Saanich Peninsula? Individual debt that a young person comes out of medical school with, and the cost of living in our area.”

Walker says the Medical Services Plan is complicated and layered, and foundations such as hers are having to operate within a framework constrained by government policy.

ALSO READ: Women and girls offered free day trip on navy warship

“We have good people providing good care, but I think the infrastructure that helps all our healthcare providers has become, for lack of a better word, top heavy. Nearly 50 per cent of Canadian dollars goes into healthcare but it’s not filtering down to the patient.”

For more information on Shoreline Medical Society and its work visit shorelinemedical.ca.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

UVic students return from Hong Kong amidst growing tension

All eight University of Victoria exchange students have returned to Canada

ICBC, province urge residents to plan ahead for winter weather

Greater Victoria should gear up and have a plan in place

Sooke mom launches GoFundMe campaign to get medical treatment for son

Single mother has two children facing medical challenges

65-million-year-old triceratops makes its debut in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. is excavating the fossilized remains of a 65-million-year-old dinosaur

VIDEO: ‘Climate emergency’ is Oxford’s 2019 Word of the Year

Other words on the shortlist included ‘extinction,’ ‘climate denial’ and ‘eco-anxiety’

12 Sooke events to get you into the holiday spirit

From a Santa parade to classicial music, Sooke has it all

Canucks erupt with 5 power-play goals in win over Nashville

Vancouver ends three-game slide with 6-3 triumph over Predators

Nanaimo man caught with more than 200,000 child porn images to be sentenced

Crown says Aaron Macrae recorded video of children on buses and at his workplace

Vancouver Island hunters may have harvested deer in area known for chronic wasting disease

Conservation officers make urgent request to public for any information

B.C. widow suing health authority after ‘untreatable’ superbug killed her husband

New Public Agency Health report puts Canadian death toll at 5,400 in 2018

Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

Security guard at Kamloops music festival gets three years for sexually assaulting concertgoer

Shawn Christopher Gray walked the woman home after she became seperated from her friends, court heard

Most Read