doc marten floral boots Survey to address Richmond’s doctor shortage
“We estimate that in Richmond about 6,000 people do not have their own family doctor,” said Kliman, who has spent the past 30 years treating patients in the community. “And it’s likely only going to get worse.”
A survey done in 2012 showed that almost a third of the 120 to 140 family physicians in Richmond were going to retire over the next five years.
The survey is being organized by the Richmond Division of Family Practice which was formed in 2010 to give family physicians one voice to influence health care delivery and policy.
According to the survey’s website, the information being collected will be used to better understand the healthcare experiences and needs of community members.
And that is expected to help Richmond residents who want a family doctor to get one. Plus, it will strengthen a primary care system centred on continuous family doctor patient relationships.
That last point is a vital one, said Kliman.
“Every study that’s ever been done will say that if you have access to a family doctor, and have a good bond with them, your (health) outcome is going to be better,” Kliman said. “And that’s going to cost the system less by way of efficiencies and improvements. Everybody benefits from this.”
But with the average patient load for a GP ranging from 800 to 1,500, servicing the 6,
000 or so now who don’t have a doctor is not a simple mathematical solution of adding more doctors.
For one, recruitment and retention of doctors is an ongoing problem, in part due to the high cost of living in the Lower Mainland, Kliman suggested. Plus, the geographical distribution of those patients needing a family doctor can be widespread. In addition, their medical needs, and other barriers language and levels of poverty are factors.
Walk in clinics take up some slack but aren’t an ideal situation.
“Episodic care is okay. But the real benefit to the whole healthcare system, and to the patient in particular, is to have that strong relationship with a family physician who recognizes that you are their patient.”
An aging population of local doctors is a situation that hits close to home for Kliman who operates out of a six doctor office on Chatham Street. There, three of the physicians are beyond retirement age and have no immediate plans to stop working, partly because they enjoy what they do, but also because they are unsure what will happen to their patient base will they all get continuing care from a family doctor.