If you have been following the Nova Scotia news, you’ll be aware that we have an acute shortage of doctors in our province.

As of December 1st, 42,198 Nova Scotians were without a family doctor and on the provincial wait list.

Nova Scotia health officials say they have recruited 92 doctors since April 1st 2018 although there are still 60 vacancies left to fill across the province.

And if that wasn’t worrying enough, 55 per cent of physicians in the province are over the age of 50. The numbers show a retirement boom is looming.

So how can you access primary care when you move here?

Depending on the neighbourhood you move into, visit your local family practice to see if they are taking on new patients (chances are they won’t be, but you never know).

Next, call 811 or visit needafamilypractice.nshealth.ca

The NEED A FAMILY PRACTICE REGISTRY is a provincial list for people without a family doctor or nurse practitioner. Once you have registered here, you will be added to the provincial registry. When a primary care provider in your area is accepting new patients, the practice will either contact you directly, or Nova Scotia Health Authority will contact you.

In the meantime, if you need to see a doctor you can call into one of the many walk-in clinics. Be sure to have your health card ready to show and be prepared for a fairly long wait, unless you can find one of the many clinics that takes online registration and bookings. I really like this resource https://ns.skipthewaitingroom.com/

This is also a good resource that can help you identify wait times at your local walk-in medical clinic to help you find faster access to care https://medimap.ca

There are plenty of walk in clinics around the province and between them all, they can cover health care needs 7 days a week. The great thing is, you can access a doctor even if you are registered with a family practice. This has been invaluable at times when our little ones had ear infections brewing and we couldn’t wait until after the weekend.

We’ve had a very good experience using several walk-in clinics.

Here’s a list that I came across featuring three of the best walk-in clinics in the Halifax area. https://threebestrated.ca/urgent-care-clinics-in-halifax-ns

I do personally find that the ER is used inappropriately at times. Patients with minor problems take up limited emergency room (ER) resources and create backlogs. Often this is because they find great difficulty making same day appointments with a doctor, so having access to many walk-in clinics should hopefully prevent people with minor injuries visiting the emergency room.

It goes without saying, for life threatening emergencies contact 911 or seek attention at your nearest emergency room. http://www.nshealth.ca/emergency-departments-and-cecs-nova-scotia

I hope that this post has been able to allay your fears somewhat. The thought of not having a family doctor can be scary, but knowing that you can access health care despite not having a “regular” doctor should reassure you.

The recruitment process is still moving full speed ahead, so hopefully new doctors will be making their way into practices and taking new patients in the very near future. Fingers crossed.

As always, please reach out if I can answer any of your questions.