Local family doctor shortage being addressed

A GP for Me program expected to keep on working in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows

  • May. 21, 2015 5:00 a.m.

By Steph Troughton


The B.C. family doctor shortage continuing to plague the province may become a distant memory for residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Ridge Meadows Division of Family Practice executive director Treena Innes says local staff who run the program A GP For Me are optimistic their strategies for dealing with the issue will continue to have an impact on the provincial shortage, which has been called critical.

Their program research showed there were 17,000 people in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows who did not have a family physician.

In its second year, RMDFP, which represents 87 family physicians in the community, has been successful in attracting several practitioners in the past year. Three have been recruited since August 2014. Two more doctors from the U.K. agreed to move to Pitt Meadows and will arrive in July. And another doctor is due to arrive in Maple Ridge in September. Each of them will have the typical roster of patients ranging from 1,500 to 2,000.

“We are definitely seeing some great progress,” says Innes.

A GP For Me is a $132-million, two-year-old provincial initiative developed by B.C. doctors and the Ministry of Health. The program’s goal is to have everyone in the province who wants a family physician to have access to one. To date, the Ministry of Health reports it has matched 54,600 patients to primary care providers.

Although Innes describes the recruitment component of the program as “highly successful,” she indicates there is still much work to be done. Her organization’s research also showed more than one-third of family doctors located locally will be retiring over the next 10 years. It is also expected the area’s population will grow by 19 per cent in that same time.

“We’ve got to keep moving forward with all of this.”

Retired family doctor and RMDFP board member Dr. Al Neufeld echoes Innes’ sentiments and adds a recent statistic shows 350 doctors in B.C. retire annually, “but only 280 students from B.C.’s medical schools are graduating.”

He said further that less than half of those graduates actually go into family practice.

In addition to recruiting new family doctors, RMDFP has developed a number of doctor-retention initiatives that include the launch of a medical pilot program called GP Extender, which involves administrative staff being trained to take over the administrative duties family doctors tackle on a daily basis.

A nurse practitioner who works out of the Salvation Army care facility and sees low or no-income individuals for everything from foot and wound care to nurse practitioner training is another example of RMDFP initiatives started in the last year.

According to recent reports, a backlog of 176,000 British Columbians looking for a family physician in 2010 has grown to more than 200,000.

Funding for the provincial A GP For Me program ends March 2016, when it will be reviewed.


Just Posted

Maple Ridge chef tops in B.C. for agriculture in the classroom

Chef Brian Smith named the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year

Flames drop to eighth in PJHL

Ridge loses two games over the weekend

Man known to frequent Maple Ridge wanted by Langley RCMP

An arrest warrant is out for Bryce Telford for allegedly impersonating a police officer

New Maple Ridge council has old problem: Albion flats

Staff asking for politicians to decide direction

Canada’s archive buys rare book that hints at Nazi plans for North America

The 1944 book may have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge

B.C. hospital apologizes for veteran’s five-day hallway stay

Clinical director of Victoria General Hospital says case of retired veteran ‘definitely excessive’

Speaker Darryl Plecas says ‘justice’ needed for legislature employees

Plecas spoke to media at the opening of a pedestrian and cycling bridge in Abbotsford Wednesday

Advocate hopes B.C. legislature scandal leads to more transparency

‘Depressing’ that it takes a scandal to inspire freedom of information reform, says Sara Neuert

‘Dr. Lipjob’ avoids jail, gets 30-day suspended sentence

She will have to serve the 30 days in prison if she commits a breach during her two-year’s probation

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

47 men arrested by Vancouver police for allegedly seeking sex with teenage girls

Seven of those arrested have been charged as part of a two-month operation

Surrey farmers taking stock of revamped Canada Food Guide

Products that were once big at the table — like meat and dairy — have been put on the back-burner

Surrey Pretrial inmate lodges human rights complaint for not being fed kosher food

Inmate claims denial of her request for kosher diet violates Section 8 of the Human Rights Code

Most Read