British Columbians wait longer than national average at walk-in clinics: report

A new report by Medimap show that British Columbians are waiting an average of 93 minutes at walk-in-clinics, 25 minutes more than the national average. Cecilia Hua reports.

A new report released by Medimap suggests B.C. has the longest wait times in the country for walk-in clinics.

The tech company, which operates an app to help people find wait times, reports that British Columbians are waiting an average of 93 minutes at walk-in clinics to see a doctor — 25 minutes more than the national average.

The report says North Vancouver has the highest wait time, with most people waiting more than three hours to see a doctor.

Victoria placed second in the province, at one hour and 47 minutes.

Kelowna clocked in at one hour and 44 minutes, Richmond at one hour and 36 minutes, and Burnaby at one hour and 22 minutes.

Vancouver came sixth at one hour and two minutes, and Abbotsford had the shortest wait at 55 minutes.

The 93 minute average in 2023 is an increase of 14 minutes from 2022.

In an attempt to put the numbers to the test, CityNews sent a reporter to a walk-in clinic in North Vancouver at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Two of the clinics she visited told her they’d stopped accepting patients for the day and to “call their office tomorrow.”

Rex Blane, a North Vancouver resident, says access to healthcare is no longer a right, but a privilege.

“We can’t get our immediate or urgent medical care needs taken care of unless we give up an enormous amount of time. Some people have time to sit for eight hours, others are going to lose a day’s pay,” he said.

He says he would rather drive out to Mission to see his family doctor.

“Without a (medical) history, your money, or the province’s money is wasted, because you either take a history, which takes a long time, in the walk-in clinic there’s no time for it, so the doctor has to just treat on a one-time, one visit basis,” he says.

Dr. Ahmer Karimuddin, president of Doctors of BC, says walk-in clinics are not meant to replace primary care doctors.

“The things that stress out walk-in clinics are things that stress out family doctors as well. Lots of patients have difficulty access because of overwhelming demand, and patients who are increasingly more complex and require urgent care,” he said.

“The solution is multi-faceted. Walk-in clinics are part of the solution, but the best solution is a high-quality health care system that has good access to primary care.”

When asked about wait times on Wednesday, Health Minister Adrian Dix says the Medimap report does not paint a full picture of clinics in B.C. and cites a 16.5 per cent increase in family doctors in the province in 2023.

With files from Cecilia Hua.

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