In this case, it’s good to not be on top. Victoria has ceded its title of having Canada’s longest walk-in clinic wait times in an annual survey released by Medimap.
The Canadian health tech company’s 2023 index shows that B.C.’s capital has dropped from 161 minutes in 2022 — the then-highest average wait in Canada as measured by Medimap — to 137 minutes this year.
That puts Victoria just behind North Vancouver, found to have the longest waits in the country at 160 minutes, on average, but it was still the second-highest overall.
“That was kind of surprising to me,” said Teddy Wickland, VP of Operations at MediMap.
On a provincial level, B.C. was also way up in terms of average wait times overall at 79 minutes — which is 36 minutes longer than last year.
But despite having an average wait more than twice as long as the national average, B.C. still came in behind Nova Scotia (84 minutes) for tops in the country.
Wickland doesn’t have a definite answer to explain why Victoria’s number has decreased but says the increase in North Vancouver is due in part to clinic closures.
“We’ve heard anecdotally from clinics in North Vancouver that they’ve closed their practice, or some have retired outright….some are leaving family medicine, some have converted their practice,” said Wickland.
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On Feb. 1, the provincial government launched its new updated pay model for family doctors, which would pay them more based on several factors including the amount of time spent with a patient, and the number of patients seen each day.
The agreement was made in conjunction with Doctors of BC. Its president — Dr. Josh Greggain — says changes brought forward last year are beginning to work.
“Victoria has gotten a little bit better and in part due to significant investment in primary care and walk-in clinics in 2022,” said Greggain.
The president says colleagues across the country and the world have been contacting him in anticipation of the new model rollout. Doctors are keeping a close eye to see if the plan will prove to be successful.
“I don’t know they’ll change in a day or a month, or even a year but this is a huge investment to look after patients in this province and it’s going to be the change in direction that we need,” said Greggain.
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The B.C. government brought forward other changes last year such as the $118 million ‘stabilization’ fund to keep clinics open. This will be the first full year where pharmacists will be able to use their extended prescription power.
They can now administer more vaccines and renew prescriptions for up to two years. Later this spring, they’ll also be able to prescribe medications for minor ailments with urinary tract infections, allergies, and as well as contraception.