Houston family doctor sounds alarm on family medicine crisis

Research shows almost 1 million British Columbians without a family doctor

Dr. Onuora Odoh

Houston-based family doctor, Dr. Onuora Odoh, is adding his voice to a campaign calling for more British Columbians to have access to an ongoing relationship with a family doctor.

“The BC College of Family Physicians (BCCFP) recently released a report confirming that almost one million British Columbians are without a family doctor,” said Dr. Odoh. “As a family doctor, I care deeply about my own patients, and about all those in my community who don’t have access to a family doctor who knows them and can care for them over time.”

According to BCCFP polling conducted in February 2022 as part of the My Family Doctor Cares campaign, 40 percent of British Columbians who have a family doctor are worried they will lose them to practice closure or retirement.

Two-thirds of British Columbians without a family doctor cite can’t find one as the reason, while 19 percent say they don’t have a family doctor because their former doctor closed their practice — a 100 percent increase from polling conducted in 2019.

“In the Houston area, and across the province, family medicine is in a state of crisis,” says Dr. Odoh. “Family doctors are leaving their practices and new doctors aren’t entering comprehensive family medicine. Without more support from the health care system, things will only get worse. For everyone in our community to have access to the care they need and deserve, we need a plan that supports and invests in family doctors in our province.”

Dr. Odoh points out that family physicians spend upwards of 25 percent of their time in charting, completing forms, and managing referrals – time family doctors believe could be better spent providing direct patient care.

B.C.’s family doctors play a central role in the early identification of disease, improved management of chronic and complex illness and helping people stay well. Evidence shows that a higher supply of family physicians is correlated with better health outcomes.

“We want to work with the B.C. Government to reduce administrative burdens and improve access to ensure everyone who wants a family doctor has that choice,” says Dr. Odoh. “We need to create the conditions to recruit and retain more family doctors in the practice of family medicine.”

Public who are interested in supporting access to family doctors are invited to send a letter to their local MLA.