No more frustration with the 811 doctor waiting list system

ByShannon J. Cortes

Aug 5, 2022

Efficiency questioned because doctors are not required to take patients from this waiting list

Bob Wren recently spent two days traveling the South Shore in search of a family doctor.

The 75-year-old Kamloops resident drove to Aberdeen and down Seymour Street, visiting offices and seeking primary care. Time and time again it has been refused.

“Of all the places I’ve been, there’s absolutely no one taking a new patient,” he said.

Along with being told doctors had no room, Wren was also routinely referred to the 811 waiting list. The waiting list is maintained by HealthLinkBC under the Ministry of Health. However, Wren has questions about the effectiveness of the 811 waiting list system.

After reading a recent KTW story about people queuing outside the downtown Bee Well Medical Clinic, Wren said he contacted a local MP’s office to find out if doctors were required to take new patients on the waiting list. Wren seeks a family doctor for himself and his wife.

He said he learned that doctors were not required to take patients from that waiting list – only encouraged. Meanwhile, he says, residents feel the 811 number is the mechanism by which to get primary care. He said that while doctors are not required to use the waitlist, they can use it at their discretion. Wren and his wife only recently lost their doctors. However, he said he has heard of people who have spent several years on the waiting list and called it “weird”.

“I feel like people are being referred to a process that seems like the process to use – but it’s not working,” he said.

Peter Milobar, MPP for Kamloops North-Thompson (BC Liberal) previously told KTW that the 811 waiting list was helpful when it was created in 2016, with many placements, but noted that it has since become a source of frustration.

KTW requested information from the Department of Health on the effectiveness of the waitlist system, including the number of Kamloops residents on the waitlist and how long British Columbians waited, but the ministry refused to answer questions.

Wren asked why the government wasn’t more transparent about the effectiveness of the 811 waiting list.

“You can’t count on it,” he said.