Urgent Action Needed as 64,900 Local Residents are Without a Family Doctor
The Ontario College of Family Physicians has solutions.
May 4, 2023 – Family doctors are calling for urgent action to address serious system-wide inefficiencies taking up too much time that should be spent with patients. Action is required now more than ever with at least 64,900 in the Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge areas without a family doctor.
The latest data from INSPIRE Primary Health Care reflects the crisis being felt across the province. There are 2.2 million Ontarians without a family doctor – a significant rise from the previously reported 1.8 million in 2020.
“The shortage is not the only problem,” said Dr. Mekalai Kumanan, a family doctor in Cambridge and President of the Ontario College of Family Physicians. “Family doctors care deeply about patients, but overwhelming administrative tasks and a lack of team support are burning us out and taking time that would be better spent with patients.”
On average, family doctors spend up to 19 hours a week on administrative tasks. That’s more than two full working days filling out forms and reviewing inboxes. Some administrative work will always be necessary to help patients, but there are more efficient ways to do things.
OCFP recommends the following solutions to ensure more Ontarians can access a family doctor:
- Increase the time that family doctors spend directly with patients by improving outdated digital systems that will ease the overwhelming administrative burden family doctors are experiencing.
- Hire healthcare team members who can provide family doctors with the support they need to free up more time for patients. Right now, 75 per cent of family doctors and their patients in Ontario do not have access to this kind of team support.
The latest data shows that those most vulnerable in our community are most likely to not have a family doctor. The KW4 Ontario Health Team, which includes people living in Kitchener, Waterloo, Wellesley, Wilmot, Woolwich has a patient population of 387,572. Within this population, 13,163 of the lowest income earners and 9,744 of those who live in racialized communities do not have a family doctor. Additionally, more than 6,000 people suffering from mental illness and nearly 2,500 who are living with diabetes also do not have a family doctor.
In the Cambridge-North Dumfries Ontario Health Team, with a population of 146,241, vulnerable people without a family doctor include 3,260 of the lowest income earners, 1,719 who live in racialized communities, 1,750 with mental illness, and nearly 750 with diabetes.
The data does not include babies born or people who moved to the area after 2019. Because of this, researchers believe these stats to be underestimated.
“This government has the ability to change the course of healthcare for millions of Ontarians,” said Kimberly Moran, CEO, Ontario College of Family Physicians. “The recent government announcement to invest in 18 new teams is a step in the right direction, and it’s clear that we need multiple solutions if we are going to make lasting and meaningful change. The OCFP looks forward to continuing to work with the Ontario government on these important issues.”
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About the Ontario College of Family Physicians
The OCFP represents more than 15,000 family doctors who support Ontarians in both urban and rural communities in our province. Our members have direct insight into the unique healthcare needs of Ontario’s varying populations. With their guidance, and together with our family physician members, the OCFP has developed three overarching solutions for Ontario parties to implement post-election that will increase access to care for more Ontarians.
Manager, Communications, OCFP