A chronic shortage of family doctors has hit Kamloops particularly hard among Interior communities and may get worse before it gets better.
That’s the outlook — as cold and flu season arrives — from a self-advocacy group called Got No Doc, which is going from Facebook to face-to-face dialogue, holding a community discussion group that starts Thursday, Oct. 13. The group meets from 6-8 p.m. at Zack’s Coffee, 377 Victoria St.
There has been a steady loss of family physicians due to retirement and concerted efforts to recruit new ones haven’t kept up. An estimated 25,000 city residents, more than a quarter of the population, don’t have a family physician.
As of this month, not one doctor among the 118 remaining family doctors in the city was taking new patients, according to the Find a Physician web page maintained by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C.
Got No Doc, a self-advocacy group, began posting on Facebook last month, offering tips on how people are managing without a doctor. Some are taking courses at TRU to access their clinic, some are going to Alberta to see a doctor, some are pregnant and hoping their obstetrician will become their GP after their pregnancy.
“With so many without a doctor, it’s time that they had a voice, and their concerns were heard,” said Nancy Bepple, who is seeking the NDP nomination in Kamloops-South Thompson. Bepple launched the Got No Docs page about a month ago. “The meeting is a chance for people to discuss face-to-face their struggles and strategies of not having a family doctor in Kamloops."
The current approach to training and recruiting new doctors in B.C. will leave Kamloops forever short, so there need to be local solutions to the problem, Bepple said.
"I agree with (Health Minister) Terry Lake that we have to look at doing things differently," she said. "I think we have to look at solutions in Kamloops."