The Yukon government has formally announced the find a family doctor program is changing to the find a primary care provider program, which includes nurse practitioners.
The decision comes amid a physician shortage. The government made the official announcement about the program expansion in a March 20 release that notes 17 per cent of residents in the Yukon lack a family doctor, compared to 14 per cent nationally.
The release cites the increasing demand for primary care service providers.
The find a family doctor program waitlist has continued growing.
As of March 21, there are currently 3,840 clients waiting to be matched with a health-care provider in the Yukon, according to the department of Health and Social Services.
On March 14, Health and Social Services Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee told the legislative assembly that 3,783 people were waiting for a match. That number was cited in response to a question raised by Brad Cathers, the Yukon Party MLA for Lake Laberge, during debate on the second supplementary budget for Health and Social Services. Cathers asked how many people were on the waitlist for a doctor.
“The service to find a family doctor or find a medical provider is, of course, expanding, and this service connects Yukoners with a family doctor or a nurse practitioner who is accepting patients based on the expanded scope of nurse practitioners and our attention to having more nurse practitioners practise here in the territory. The service is available to Yukon residents, primarily living in Whitehorse and the surrounding areas,” McPhee said.
“Individuals living in the communities have access to either a resident or an itinerant doctor in that community, so they are not necessarily wanting to put their names on this list.”
Others simply haven’t added their names to the swelling waitlist.
Without a walk-in clinic, people in the Whitehorse area without a physician were stuck going to the emergency department for care.
In the release, Jerome Marburg, the CEO of the Yukon Registered Nurses Association, said the association “supports all measures aimed at enhancing access to care provided by competent and accountable health-care professionals.”
The release indicates there are 24 nurse practitioners licensed to practise in the Yukon and 1,357 Yukoners have found matches through the find a family doctor program.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the department of Health and Social Services confirmed not all these nurse practitioners will be taking clients from the find a primary care provider program list — nurses will have the option to join the program.
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