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More frustration with the 811 doctor waitlist system

Effectiveness questioned as doctors are not required to take patients from that waitlist
family doctor

Bob Wren recently spent two days travelling around the South Shore in search of a family doctor.

The 75-year-old Kamloops resident drove up to Aberdeen and walked down Seymour Street, visiting offices and requesting primary care. Time and time again, he was turned down.

“Of all the places I went to, there’s absolutely nobody taking a new patient,” he said.

In addition to being told the doctors had no room, Wren was also consistently referred to the 811 waitlist. The waitlist is maintained through HealthLinkBC under the Ministry of Health. However, Wren has questions about the effectiveness of the 811 waitlist system.

After reading a recent KTW story about people lined up outside the Bee Well Medical Clinic downtown, Wren said he contacted a local MLA’s office with questions about whether doctors were required to take new patients from the waitlist. Wren is seeking a family doctor for both himself and his wife.

He said he learned doctors are not required to take patients from that waitlist — only encouraged. Meanwhile, he said, residents are under the impression the 811 number is the mechanism by which to obtain primary care. He said if doctors are not compelled to utilize the waitlist, they can use it at their discretion. Wren and his wife only recently lost their doctors. However, he said he has heard from individuals who have spent multiple years on the waitlist and called it “bizarre.”

“I feel that people are being referred to a process that appears to be the process to use — but it’s not working,” he said.

Kamloops North-Thompson (BC Liberal) MLA Peter Milobar previously told KTW that the 811 waitlist was helpful when it was created in 2016, with many placements occurring, but noted it has since become a source of frustration.

KTW sought information from the Ministry of Health about the effectiveness of the waitlist system, including how many Kamloops residents are on the waitlist and how long British Columbians are waiting, but the ministry refused to answer the questions.

Wren questioned why the government is not being more transparent about the effectiveness of the 811 waitlist.

“You can’t rely on it,” he said.