Canadians’ frustration with access to primary health care revealed by National survey

Canada Primary health care. Image credit:Unsplash/Francisco Venâncio

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Toronto/CMEDIA: A most recent survey reportedly conducted on the country’s views of the health system with primary care, reveals Canadians’ deep dissatisfaction and frustration with the country’s severe shortage of family doctors.

Led by Dr. Tara Kiran, a family doctor and scientist with the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, a national survey was conducted by The OurCare Initiative.

After convening a series of community roundtables over the past 16 months by assembling five “provincial priorities panels,”  The OurCare Initiative released a 72-page report describing its findings.

The findings showed that while Canadians are proud of their health system that delivers care based on need and not on the ability to pay, the system has failed on its promise to deliver universal and high-quality health care in a timely manner.

The report found evidence that an estimated 22 percent of Canadian adults (about 6.5 million people) do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner they can see regularly.

“So many people have absolutely nothing — no access — and I think that’s shameful, actually,” Kiran was reported saying.

Access to primary health is particularly limited in Quebec, where 30.8 percent of people report they don’t have a primary care provider, the survey said.

30.9 percent of people surveyed In Atlantic Canada said they have no family doctor or nurse practitioner.

According to data reportedly published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Canada’s access to primary care lags well behind other wealthy countries such as the United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands and Finland, where more than 95 percent of the population has a primary care clinician or place of care.

Whereas these countries guarantee access to primary health care by automatically registering people to a physician or practice, in Canada, many family medicine practices have simply closed their doors to new patients resulting in many people spending years on waiting lists just to get access to a general practitioner. 

Only 35 per cent of those surveyed said they could get a same-day or next-day appointment when they need care urgently, said the OurCare report.

The OurCare report concludes that by bringing in more doctors and nurse practitioners can the problem of lack of Canada’s access to primary care and prevent the deterioration of Canadians’ health.

Citing her research Kiran was reported saying that the federal government needs to spend tens of billions of dollars more than agreed by the government.

“We need 10 times the investment that has been committed to realize that vision of high-quality primary care for everyone.” Kiran said.