We recently marked World Family Doctor Day. As we celebrate our hard-working physicians, we also call on the government to invest in health care and provide people with access to primary care.
About a million British Columbians do not have a family doctor or primary care provider, putting additional strain on emergency rooms, urgent primary care centres, and walk-in clinics. Nurses and paramedics are burned out. Long hours, overwhelmed hospitals, and staffing shortages have forced many to leave their profession.
Our more rural communities are seeing declines in all areas of care. Emergency departments are routinely closed temporarily due to staffing shortages. Communities are more dependant on ambulance service, which has also deteriorated to the extent that people are being forced to drive themselves to get help.
Frustrations around home care continue to build. Interior Health has implemented a HUB system where booking home care services is centralized and no longer done locally. Dispatchers often don’t know the local community, staffing, patients, and other vital information. Patients — generally seniors — show up for appointments, only to find that the worker has called in sick or can’t make it.
It’s worth noting as well that everything is interconnected, and issues in one community may end up impacting another. The routine emergency room closures we have seen in communities like Ashcroft often push people to seek out care at the emergency department at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. That facility is under tremendous stress as it tries to keep up with the demand for services while also dealing with staff shortages and other challenges.
Our health care system is in crisis, and it’s time for this two-term government to take it seriously and act.
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