Calgary

Find a Doctor website launched as Calgary shortage continues to ease

An improved website will be launched later today to help connect Calgarians to family physicians in the city's primary care networks.

Roughly 200 family doctors now accepting new patients in Calgary

More family physicians are accepting patients after years of doctor shortages in the Calgary area. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

A new website to help connect Calgarians to family physicians in the city was launched today. 

The Find a Doctor site includes an interactive map explaining where the available doctors are located, their gender, phone number and languages spoken.

"We also have a lot of evidence and research that demonstrates that patients who are connected to a family physician live longer and are generally healthier," said  Dr. Sarah Bates, just one of 230 physicians currently accepting new patients.

Dr. Muhammad Shahbaz at North Mount Medical Centre is one of at least 200 physicians accepting patients after years of doctor shortages in Calgary. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

A shortage of doctors became a major issue in Calgary several years ago but it now appears to be easing, according to groups that track the trend.

"I do see a difference what the patients tell me. They tell me it had been very hard in the past and now it's more easy," said Dr. Muhammad Shahbaz of Calgary's North Mount Medical Centre.

A window outside his clinic reads "we are accepting new patients" — something that would have been rare several years ago.

"We are looking for new patients and eventually down the road we have more physicians too because we have a big clinic — it's like 16 rooms," said Shahbaz, who has been practicing for more than four years.

Alberta Health Services established primary care networks (PCNs) in 2003 to improve access to family physicians and other frontline health-care providers in Alberta.

It is part of Alberta's five-year health action plan, which is designed in part to help connect patients to a family doctor quickly and avoid waits in the emergency department.

"Certainly our information from the work that we do is that there's been a pretty significant increase over the last five  years in the number of doctors accepting patients in the Calgary area," said Keith Bradford with the Calgary Foothills PCN — one of seven networks in and around the city.

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