My recent jaunt to a walk-in clinic in Kitchener went something like this-
Do you have a family doctor? No, but I would like one.
You and everyone else. Have a seat.
I knew that it was hard to find a doctor in KW, my husband and I had gone to new medical clinics to fill out intake forms and asked everyone we knew who they went to and if that person was accepting clients to no avail when we arrived. It was annoying, but not critical to the now. Until I woke up in pain, and realised that I would have to take a gamble on a walk-in clinic doctor. Someone I didn´t know, who had no knowledge of my medical history. Oh boy.
I got lucky and saw a doctor who at least appeared to be on his game and promptly sent me out for tests. Along the way, I spoke with patients, technicians and other medial folks who lamented the shortage of doctors (and nurses/techs) in the Region. Was it due to sudden population growth? I asked a nurse. No It´s been like this for a long time, she said. A long time? What?
“In Waterloo Region in 2009, 9.2% of the population 12 years and older reported that they did not have a regular physician. This was up from 9.1% in 2008. The 2009 level was above the provincial level of 8.5% and below the national average of 15.1%.” 2010 Vital Signs Report
With a population of approx. 525,000, this means that 48,300 people in our Region do not have a family doctor – 48,298 if you don´t count my husband and I. And this is not a new problem, a google search of “Waterloo Region doctor shortage” brings up articles from years ago in all of the major outlets. What was even more surprising, was finding out that we are not alone. Ontario as a whole has a doctor shortage.
Apparently Ontario is not at the top of the list for doctors. It may have something to do with the fact that specialties pay more than becoming a family doctor or the idea that Ontario´s fee schedule does not pay that of other provinces. Regardless, we have a problem.
In BC we paid health premiums based on our level of income. On arrival in Ontario we said good-bye to those payments, happy to have the extra $50 a month we paid as a couple. Those payments are looking good right now.
Do you have a doctor? What do you think we can do to attract more doctors to our Region? Is this a Regional problem or a provincial one?