Wait list for doctors in N.S,. has grown, but recent trends are encouraging
It's two years tomorrow since Nova Scotia started a registry for people looking for a family doctor and there are more names on the list now than there were then.
That doesn’t tell the whole story, though, because for the first time, the number of people finding family physicians is increasing as well.
More than 58,000 Nova Scotians are looking for a family doctor, that's according to the latest report from the Nova Scotia Health Authority's “need a family practice registry.”
Sixty-four-year-old Mitch Steele is part of that statistic.
“My family doctor retired in August,” Steele said. “Now, I've put myself on the waiting list and that was about six months ago, and I haven't heard anything yet.”
Steele says he suffers from diabetes- and going to a clinic for a prescription refill is not always convenient, so he'll wait hours at emergency for the treatment he needs.
“Now, my wife, her doctor has been trying to retire for 10 years,” Steele said. “He’s 74-years-old, and he hasn't been taking any new patients.”
Nova Scotia's NDP calls this a health-care crisis.
The health authority's report shows the number of people without a family physician has increased by 45 per cent since this time last year.
“Over 50 per cent of the doctors right now in Nova Scotia are over the age of 50,” said NDP health critic Tammy Martin. “Where is that going to leave us? 40 per cent of the doctors in Dartmouth are set to retire.”
The health authority says we need to look at the bigger picture.
For the first time since the registry was created two years ago, the number of people who found a family doctor last month was higher than the number of new people added to the registry.
“OurNovember report will be released in the next few days, so I'm interested to look at those trends to see if this is the beginning of a trend or was that an isolated point,” said Kathy Bell of the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
Nova Scotians, like, T.J. Wilson are hoping it's a trend that continues. The 25-year-old is also actively searching for a family doctor in the Halifax area.
“I’ve been searching, looking, Facebooking, everything I can to really try to find a family doctor,” said Wilson. “It's just hard, everybody's doctor is either booked up or their doctor is also retiring and/or leaving town.”
As of now, when someone is added to the registry, there's no set wait time, when it comes to finding a doctor, but it's an option the health authority is looking to add in the future.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau.