There is a chronic family physician shortage in BC. Having a family doctor is critical for providing good care and navigating the medical system should serious illness occur. It is estimated the 15% of the population do not have a family doctor, and at any given time 200,000 people are activity looking for a family physician.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. recently shut down it’s website that was to help patients find family doctors recently. From the CBC –
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. said in a memo to doctors obtained by CBC that its online database of doctors accepting patients will be discontinued March 3 2018.
It says it is being pulled, because many doctors are not accepting new patients, and they work in multiple locations creating many inaccurate reports, frustrating patients.
Another problem is that doctors are responsible for keeping their own information up-to-date and often they do not.
People who have recently moved are a big percentage of those activity looking for family doctors. Almost by definition, if someone moves into an area they will have difficulty finding a physician.
The typical patient looking for a family doctor starts by phoning around to local clinics. They will ask friends and co-workers for suggestions. They will visit walk-in clinics for treatment and ask face to face.
With the doctor shortage, when a new doctor does arrive, or spots open up at a clinic, there is a scramble for patients to apply. Often there is only a 2 or 3 week window. That is why people rely of word of mouth, and references from friends.
When my wife and I moved to Nanaimo, we finally got a family doctor through a tip from a friend that a clinic had hired a new doctor from Ontario, and she was taking patients. We went the next day and filled out a new patient form. I believe the her practice was full in less than 3 weeks.
Lists of doctor availability online are hopelessly out of date. My wife used some trying to find a doctor and found all the doctors she called from the list were not accepting patients. Some lists haven’t been updated for years. As noted above, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. database no longer includes data on whether the doctor is accepting new patients or not.