Central Interior Rural Division of Family Practice executive director Trevor Barnes says the doctor shortage in the Cariboo is the norm.

Central Interior Rural Division of Family Practice executive director Trevor Barnes says the doctor shortage in the Cariboo is the norm.

Doctor shortage the norm

Approximately 6,700 people in the Williams Lake and 100 Mile House area don’t have a family doctor.

Approximately 6,700 people in the Williams Lake and 100 Mile House area don’t have a family doctor, according to Trevor Barnes, executive director of the Central Interior Rural Division of Family Practice. That 6,700 represents about 12 per cent of the region’s population.

“That’s consistent across the province,” Barnes said. “The number ranges from 12 to 17 per cent, so we’re not any different than any other area, in fact we’re a little bit lower percentage wise.”

Our region is always looking for doctors, that never stops, Barnes added.

“People retire, people move on, that always happens.”

The division, one of 30 in the province, has a funding agreement with the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District to provide a recruitment and retention program and is aggressively trying to recruit two new physicians, one for Williams Lake and one for 100 Mile House.

“About one third of the doctors will be retiring or leaving over the next three to five years so what we want to do is have a proactive response to that and get going now, “ Barnes said. “I believe we’ll be successful filling a lot of those vacancies.”

Last month Susan Paulsen, the recruitment officer for Quesnel, told the CCRHD during a presentation in Williams Lake Quesnel presently has nine postings for medical staff and there will be nine more to come.

Barnes said it’s important to attach people to a physician because care is better and there tend to be less crises.

“You don’t normally go to emergency unless you are in dire straights.”

Cariboo Memorial Hospital’s emergency department sees around 55 patients per day, but that number is down from previous years, said Michaela Swan, a communications officer with Interior Health.

“100 Mile House Hospital provides service to approximately 30 patients per day in the Emergency Department, which has been a consistent number in recent years.”

Presently there are 48 general practitioners in Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and Tatla Lake.

Of those 48, 36 are general practitioners with private clinics, the others work either in emergency, they might be an anesthetist, or an oncologist specializing in cancer treatment.

The purpose of the division is to increase patient and doctor attachment.

Barnes said improving that relationship, by helping offices become more efficient in ways to deliver the practice of primary health care, is critical.

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