Doctor shortage reaching crisis levels

By Tanya Cronin / Chad Harris
November 17, 2015 - 6:45pm Updated: November 18, 2015 - 1:57pm

It's a problem that has plagued our City for several years. But now, the Doctor shortage in Kamloops has reached crisis proportions. 

It has become the stark reality of health care right across British Columbia. Long line-ups at walk-in clinics and in Kamloops it's no different. Waiting to see a Doctor can often feel like forever. 

Dr. Peter Loland, the lead Physician with the GP For Me program says "We don't even have enough Physicians to have enough walk in clinics, you have to get there before 9am or you're not seen."

A Doctor shortage has plagued the community for years and as the population grows the need for quality Medical Professionals is only increasing. Right now about 30,000 Kamloops residents are without a family Doctor. to add to the pain existing GP's are carrying a heavy patient load.

"The provincial average is 1,500 and Kamloops averages over 2,000 for each Physician, we're at capacity and that's why we keep saying no to people who keep asking us. We would love to, we don't like saying no." Dr. Loland told CFJC. 

There may be some hope on the horizon for those in need of a family Physician. The city's GP For Me program is helping to recruit General Practicioners to Kamloops and surrounding areas.

Health Minister Terry Lake says "We have attracted 8 or 9 physicians into Kamloops, but we hope to get more - ideally another 5-15."

The program is a joint initiative between the province and B.C. Doctors and has so far been successful in rural areas. Chase now has three Physicians, a Doctor will be starting up in Logan Lake and two others are headed to Ashcroft. The program is recruiting across canada and considering several factors like incorporating a nurse into a Physician's office to enhance care.

"They've got some really innovative ideas on building resiliancy into practices, they have programs where physicians are planning on retiring can mentor younger Physicians and practice part time longer, as they exit their carrers." says Healh Minister Terry Lake

Adding to the family Doctor shortage is the growing number of medical students choosing to specialize. A new residency program is training a dozen Doctors a year with the hope they will stay in Kamloops.

Currently, there are 40 to 50 family Doctors doing primary care in the city, several others only work out of Royal Inland Hospitals Emergency Department. 

Dr. Peter Loland says the key to attracting Doctors starts with making family medicine much more attractive.

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