British Columbia

Kamloops battling doctor shortage 'one step at a time'

B.C. health minister says a new phone service will help prioritize who gets access to a family doctor.

B.C. health minister says a new phone service will help prioritize who gets access to a family doctor

There are an estimated 30,000 residents in Kamloops without a family doctor. (iStock)

The B.C. government is taking steps to address a doctor shortage in Kamloops, according to Health Miinister Terry Lake.

A new phone service is beginning to prioritize the thousands of residents who currently don't have access to a family doctor.

The service is an extension of  Healthlink BC. — a free-of-charge health information service that's accessible province-wide by dialling 8-1-1.

"We thought it would be a great resource for those people in Kamloops that need to have a doctor, but don't have one at the moment," Lake told host Shelley Joyce on CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

"Staff takes their name and puts them on an actively managed waitlist that will be connected to the new primary care practitioners as they come on stream," he said.

B.C.'s Health Minister, Terry Lake. (CBC)

Nearly 30,000 city residents don't have a family doctor, according to telemedicine provider Medview MD

In October, Lake outlined plans to combat the shortage, which has frustrated many Kamloops residents. Steps include increasing the capacity of walk-in clinics, which can't handle demand, and recruiting more doctors and nurses to practice in the city.

 The city's Royal Inland Hospital has also opened a new training facility for several UBC medical students. Lake said the first graduating cohort will remain in the area once that training is complete.

"All of the new family practice residents that have been training in Kamloops over the last two years will be staying in the region," he said.

"That means there will be six family physicians that will be available,"

The ministry's strategy will eventually chip away at the doctor shortage, he said. "We need to do it one step at a time. and see if it works."

With files from CBC's Daybreak Kamloops

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Dial a doctor phoneline is a new way to secure a family doctor