The number of people in Ontario who have family doctors is slowly increasing but Sudbury and the rest of the northeast still lag behind the provincial average, according to new figures released.

The Local Health Integration Network said that while 93 per cent of Ontarians have a family doctor, only about 88 per cent of people in the northeast have one.

But recruitment programs are still gaining headway.

Ryan Humeniuk, who recruits doctors for the city, said that since he began doing so in 2008 at least 60 family doctors have started working in Sudbury.

“We've definitely exceeded our initial expectations,” Humeniuk said.

“With the results of the recruitment program, bringing in new family physicians, we’re quite hopeful that we will experience net gains of family physicians in the years to come.”

He adds that three to four doctors also retire each year and their patient numbers are often two to three times the normal number.

Seven doctors are set to start this year with another 14 signed for the next year.

However, the LHIN said that about 6,000 people in Sudbury still do not have a general physician.

Romney Mackinnon is among that number.

“I mean, going for a six-hour wait in the emergency room just to get medications filled, it’s not very time-effective or cost-effective,” Mackinnon said.

Dr. Cathy Cervin, associate dean of postgraduate studies at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, said that access is increasing for some.

According to Cervin, the town of Chapleau had no permanent doctors at all for seven years but now has three thanks to recent 2012 graduates.