June 22, 2024
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Over 6.5 Million Canadians Lack Regular Access to Primary Care: Study Reveals Widespread Access Inequality

A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has revealed that more than one in five adults in Canada, equivalent to over 6.5 million individuals, do not have consistent access to primary care services. The research, conducted as part of an 18-month initiative called OurCare, surveyed over 9,200 people nationwide to understand their values and experiences with primary care.

Dr. Tara Kiran, a family physician and researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto, and the University of Toronto, emphasized the significance of this issue. “Primary care is the entry point to the healthcare system, providing essential services such as managing chronic diseases, preventing illness, and helping patients navigate other support systems,” she stated. “It is deeply concerning that in certain regions of the country, this essential door is closed for nearly one-third of the population.”

The study highlighted substantial regional disparities in primary care access. In Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, approximately one in three respondents reported not having a primary care clinician, even after adjusting for demographic factors. Conversely, people in Ontario were most likely to report having a primary care provider. Men, younger adults, and those with poor health were less likely to have a primary care clinician.

Even those with primary care clinicians faced challenges in accessing care, as most practices did not offer appointments outside of regular weekday hours. Over half of respondents reported being unable to secure an urgent appointment within three days of attempting to book. Many turned to walk-in clinics, which do not offer continuity of care, a factor that patients identified as crucial.

Dr. Kiran expressed her surprise at the provincial variation in access to primary care. “Primary care is the foundation of our healthcare system, and it is unacceptable that access to this essential service varies so greatly across the country,” she concluded.

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1.Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2.We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it