February 25, 2020

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Wait times for family doctor finder increase

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu</p><p>The province's family doctor finder has connected more than 121,000 Manitobans with primary care providers since 2013 but has seen wait times swell in recent months as more people use the service.</p></p>

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The province's family doctor finder has connected more than 121,000 Manitobans with primary care providers since 2013 but has seen wait times swell in recent months as more people use the service.

WAIT times to be connected with a family doctor have skyrocketed in recent months as more people use the provincial family doctor finder.

The service has connected more than 121,000 Manitobans with primary care providers since 2013.

But not Jenn Ferreira.

The St. Andrews resident has been trying to get a new doctor since March 20, when she went to the family doctor finder website and filled in her personal information. She requested either a doctor in Selkirk or Winnipeg.

"I’m still looking for a doctor to this day." Ferreira said Thursday.

More than 80 per cent of Manitobans got a call back within 30 days from 2015 to 2017. In recent months, the number of people contacted has plummeted to as low as 32 per cent.

 

Ferreira said she’s still waiting to hear back. She hasn’t been able to find time to phone the service between its operating hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., because she works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"The system is useless," she said. "It’s difficult when you need access to a prescription and you have to go to a walk-in to get it for one month or three months, when I can simply go to my family doctor and get for six months to nine months."

Ferreira said she wanted a new doctor because hers was absent for six weeks and she wasn’t able to get a prescription.

"It’s frustrating. It feels like they don’t care enough to help out," Ferreira said. She called a few doctors’ offices directly, and was told they only take patients through the family doctor finder.

The delays began at the end of 2018. From October to December, only 32 per cent of patients who tried the service were matched within 30 days — down from nearly 86 per cent in the previous quarter.

In January and March matches recovered to above 80 per cent, but from April to June of this year, only 58.8 per cent got a match within a month.

The province said the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has the highest percentage of registrations, "so any dips or rises in their rates are very noticeable in the provincial rate. The program is expecting similar results over the next two reporting periods."

There has been a surge of applications, the province said, which can drive up wait times. Staff was added after both the delay periods.

Ferreira said she wants a female doctor, and wonders if that’s part of the problem.

Patients who want to switch to another doctor or want a female doctor, often wait longer, the province said.

tvanderhart@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @tessavanderhart

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