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Health firm says Nova Scotia patients wait the longest to see a doctor


A new report from a company that specializes in arranging medical appointments says Nova Scotia now leads the way with the longest wait times for walk-in clinics in the country.

The report from Medimap, says Nova Scotia patients wait an average of 83 minutes to see a physician at a walk in clinic -- 39 minutes longer than it was in 2021.

"So if you're a patient in Halifax or anywhere in Nova Scotia, you should unfortunately expect to wait a least an hour to see a doctor, which is really troubling," said Teddy Wickland, the company's VP of Operations.

The company is an online service that matches patients with clinics and other health-care professionals.

Frank MacNeil was attempting to see a doctor at a walk-in clinic in Hammonds Plains on Monday afternoon.

Although he has a doctor in Bridgewater, N.S., he wasn't prepared to wait two or three months for an appointment.

"So, now I'm trying to find a walk-in clinic for a simple ear infection, and it seems like they're either closed or the wait times are insane," MacNeil told CTV News. "I can't even get into the administration rooms."

Many walk-in clinics no longer accept walk-in patients: they're urged to book ahead and spots fill up quickly.

"We are very, very busy here. We typically open the phone lines at 8:45 a.m. We are usually booked for the day by about 9:10 a.m.," said Dr. Jennifer Burns-Lachance, a family doctor at the Hammonds Plains Family Practice and Walk-In Clinic.

"So, it's very quick."

Medimap says it works with 1,200 walk-in clinics in Canada, but none of them are in Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador or up North.

The data is extrapolated from the clinics it does worth with.

"We work with about 70 per cent of all the walk-in clinics in Canada," said Wickland.

"We don't have many partners in some of the smaller regions. So we are making an assumption to spread our data, that 70 per cent, across the whole country. I would say what we've heard anecdotally is that this is a national issue, and so even though we might not have the data from P.E.I. or New Brunswick, we expect the same sort of trends to exist there as well."

"It's a huge swath of data that we collect," said Wickland.

“In Halifax, I want to say we have ten to 15 clinics who submitted data over the last year. A lot of them, what we've seen is they've stopped submitting data, so that tells us two things -– either they reached capacity and they realized or felt we can't continue to publish our wait times online, we just need to say we're closed.”

"Or, unfortunately another possibility is that they closed entirely, is what we've heard anecdotally from some of our partners."

But the province disputes the conclusions.

In an emailed statement to CTV News, Department of Health and Wellness Communications and Media Relations Advisor Khalehla Perrault said, "Walk-in clinics are an important healthcare resource. However, they are businesses run by medical professionals that manage their own caseloads and acceptable wait times."

Perrault added there are other ways Nova Scotians can receive medical care, including VirtualCareNS, pharmacies, mobile clinics, urgent treatment centres and clinics.

"Just last week the province announced another service: the Community Pharmacy Primary Care Clinics program. Pharmacists in these clinics will have dedicated time to see patients with common illnesses. We are also working to add new collaborative care teams in 14 more communities across the province. We’re supporting the Dalhousie family medicine clinics, which will expand to more communities."

"We know access to primary health care is a challenge in Nova Scotia, and we are working on solutions. However, this study includes limited Nova Scotia data and was not completed by a neutral third party. In addition, it does not include all primary health-care avenues such as mobile health-care clinics and pharmacies. We recommend Nova Scotians consider this when assessing the value of this index," the statement concluded.

Frank MacNeil needed no convincing wait times are longer.

"I would believe it, honestly," he said.

"Knowing how many of my family and friends can't even get into walk-in clinics -- are just going straight to the ER and having to wait hours there." Top Stories

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