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Physician, make thyself available

This won’t come to much surprise to many folks in these parts, but a new report suggests Canadians have a harder time getting rapid access to their doctors, especially outside of working hours, than people in a group of similar countries.

The report shows Canadians are least likely to be able to get a same-day or next-day medical appointment than residents of countries like Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand and the United States, The Canadian Press reported.

Now sure, there are a few smaller clinics where you can often walk in and see your doctor in a matter of minutes without an appointment — there are a couple of those in Brandon — but for the great majority of people, you wait, wait, wait and wait some more. This is especially true when it comes to getting an audience with a specialist, who are at times treated more or less like royalty.

The study also said Canadians are among the least likely to be able to get a house call from their doctor.

A house call? You’re about as likely to see a milkman than a doctor on your doorstep in Canada.

The findings are included in the 2012 Commonwealth Fund international health policy survey, which asked primary-care doctors to assess the performance of their health-care systems on a wide range of issues.

In Canada, the report was released by the Health Council of Canada.

Most of the Canadian doctors polled felt better about the way Canada’s system is working than they did a few years ago, but only 40 per cent said the system works well and needs only minor changes.

Not surprisingly, one of the problems the report highlights is after-hours care.

Canadian doctors are among the least likely to have arrangements for their patients to see other doctors — other than in hospital ERs — when their own practices are closed.

And if you’ve ever been in the slow parade of pain and personal indignity found in most emergency wards in Manitoba, you’ll know why more doctors in other countries have an arrangement for patients to be able to consult another doctor or a nurse after hours.

While that’s the norm in many of the countries in the survey, reports The Canadian Press, only 46 per cent of doctors in Canada reported having such a system in place.

“That’s a system issue that needs to be addressed because … your only recourse then is an emergency room. And Canada is pretty well the highest user of emergency rooms,” said John Abbott, CEO of the Health Council of Canada.

“It’s inefficient for the system, it’s definitely much more costly for the system and as a patient it is not the appropriate area for care.”

No shoot, Sherlock.

We’ve all heard the stories of people who intentionally fake passing out in emergency waiting rooms just because that’s the only time they will ever get a chance to be treated like a human being and with some dignity.

At Brandon Regional Health Centre, some exaggerated symptoms — wailing in pain and falling over are common — at least usually gets you into a chair behind a curtain away from the maddening crowd on the plastic chairs and benches.

And that’s just on a slow night. Heaven forbid if there has been a serious accident or a knife fight.

Oh, and just to throw a little extra salt into those wounds, the poll broke responses down by province as well within Canada.

Doctors in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario are more likely to do house calls, CP reported. Doctors in the three Prairie provinces were the least likely to do so.

And for the final kick in the teeth — Ontario doctors are considerably more likely to have arrangements for after-hours care for their patients than doctors in other provinces; Manitoba doctors were the least likely to have these kinds of arrangements.

So while you might have the greatest doctor offering fantastic care during daylight hours, you’re pretty much on your own at night in these parts.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 22, 2013

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This won’t come to much surprise to many folks in these parts, but a new report suggests Canadians have a harder time getting rapid access to their doctors, especially outside of working hours, than people in a group of similar countries.

The report shows Canadians are least likely to be able to get a same-day or next-day medical appointment than residents of countries like Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand and the United States, The Canadian Press reported.

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This won’t come to much surprise to many folks in these parts, but a new report suggests Canadians have a harder time getting rapid access to their doctors, especially outside of working hours, than people in a group of similar countries.

The report shows Canadians are least likely to be able to get a same-day or next-day medical appointment than residents of countries like Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand and the United States, The Canadian Press reported.

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