Would-be patients who lost the Digby doctor lottery last week say it's a "barbaric" way to secure health care.

Geoffrey Leblanc tried hard to be one of the 100 people who won a spot with a new family doctor. All the spots were gone in 90 minutes.

"Redial for two hours and not get through? This is the second time. It's barbaric. 'Here's the carrot, go chase it.' Whoever gets to the carrot first gets to see a doctor," he said Tuesday.

'We're orphan patients that no one is paying attention to.' - Geoffrey Leblanc

"It's a terrible circle and there's no end in sight."

His doctor left the Nova Scotia town two years ago and there is still no replacement. A service like refilling a prescription requires hours of waiting at the hospital’s outpatient clinic.

"We're orphan patients that no one is paying attention to," he said.

There are hundreds — perhaps thousands — of people in his situation.

Gloria Hill lost out too. "You can try all you want and some might have been lucky," she said.

Another woman said she called hundreds of times without success.

Bad for chronic conditions

Poppy Balser, a pharmacist with PharmaChoice, says they renew prescriptions for 30 days to tide people over.

"We have a lot of people with no physicians to oversee them," she said.

"It's not just seeing a doctor when you are sick, it's the routine, chronic conditions that aren't getting managed because the doctor isn't there to do it."

Digby has recruited three more doctors who are expected to set up practices over the next year. Many residents are hoping their lucky day will finally come.