Victorians struggling to find family physicians

Brett Rogers is fed up. The Victoria resident has spent the past six year trying to find a family doctor with no luck.

Brett Rogers is fed up.

For the past four months, the 33-year-old Victoria resident has had a swollen neck, pain on the right side of his shoulder and chest pain that makes it difficult to breathe at times. It’s a constant pain that never goes away.

The situation is made worse, Rogers said, because he can’t find a doctor that’s willing to take on new patients and run tests and exams needed to be properly diagnosed.

Rogers is one of hundreds of people without a family physician in Greater Victoria.

His family doctor retired in 2008. While his family was referred and taken on by a new doctor, Rogers wasn’t because he was relatively healthy at the time.

For six years, Rogers has been trying to find a doctor — asking family members, friends and co-workers for referrals and looking online to see if any doctors in Greater Victoria are accepting new patients.

He’s called more than 20 doctors and left messages to see if they’ll take him on but often never hears back.

Having a doctor has never been a problem in the past, but now Rogers needs someone to properly diagnose him.

He’s been to roughly five walk-in clinics in the past seven months, waiting anywhere from an hour-and-a-half to three hours to see a doctor for roughly five minutes.

“I’m fed up. You go to a clinic and they don’t want to help you, they don’t care… it could be something serious,” Rogers said. “It’s pretty much like going to a fast food restaurant when you go to a walk-in clinic. You’re in and out. If you go to your doctor, they actually sit down and talk to you, like they would in a normal restaurant.”

Unable to be diagnosed, Rogers is forced to turn to the Internet to try and find out what’s wrong with him.

“It could be something at my work, it could be the air I’m breathing, I could have an infection in my throat, it could be anything,” he said. “I just live with it now because there’s nothing I can do.”

According to the Ministry of Health, access to family physicians is not new, as all provinces are struggling to recruit new physicians with an increasing number of doctors retiring.

“Here in B.C., in fact, we have more full-time GPs for the population at 125 per 100,000 than the Canadian average of 114 per 100,000,” said an emailed statement.

Twenty-eight doctors have been recruited in Victoria since 2013.

The province said it is making progress with more than 88,000 patients with complex care who have been matched with a primary care provider through the A GP for ME program, which connects patients and doctors.

As for Rogers, he believes the only way he’ll find a doctor is if his parents’ family doctor accepts him or through another referral.