Open letter to Health Minister Doug Graham:
Shock and dismay, those are the only words that come to mind. Minister, what are you doing to address the shortage of family physicians in the territory?
I have just become aware that my family physician, who has a caseload of over 4,000 patients in Whitehorse, is likely going to have to leave the territory by mid-November because he is a foreign-accredited doctor.
There is clearly a shortage of doctors in the Yukon: anybody trying to get a family doctor that does not already have one can tell you that. So, I find it ridiculous that I will now have to take my children to emergency for basic health-care needs.
As a mother of three, I have always understood the purpose of the emergency department at the hospital to be for just that: emergencies.
Oh sure, you may say we have a walk-in clinic that is still available. Given my current doctor’s workload, I question the ability of any walk-in clinic to pick up that slack.
Furthermore, the whole point of having a family physician is that they get to know you as individuals and therefore, are able to provide you with better and preventative care. This, in theory, should reduce the overall impact on the health-care system as a whole.
How can the Yukon government and Yukon Medical Council possibly say with a straight face “there is currently no demonstrated need…” to support limited family practice licences? I have contacted every doctor’s office in this city and none of them are taking on new patients.
Once my doctor closes his doors, there will be thousands of patients like me looking for a new family physician. Will there be a “demonstrated” need then? Too little, too late, if you ask me.
One would think that actually keeping physicians here would reduce overall health-care costs since you do not have to engage in additional recruitment activities. Some doctors are already here and would actually like to stay. Why, I wonder, since they are treated so poorly by this jurisdiction when most other jurisdictions in Canada would welcome them with open arms.
So what, if anything, do you propose to do to encourage this (and other) fine doctors to stay in Whitehorse when he actually wants to be here? I find it utterly reprehensible that your government would not seize the opportunity to encourage such excellent physicians to stay and practise here.
For the record, I have had family physicians in five other jurisdictions across Canada and he is by far one of the best in my personal experience. I think it is disgusting that he is going to have to leave when he wants to stay and there is a clear need for his services. This is putting my family’s health at risk, and I am not impressed with inaction.