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How long does it take to see a doctor at a Sask. walk-in clinic? Data shows wait times on the rise

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With more family doctors shutting their doors, patients are turning to walk-in clinics, according to a medical technology company.

Medimap is a platform that works with clinics to publish their wait times online. The company has found wait times are on the rise.

In 2022, Medimap found patients in Saskatchewan waited an average of 51 minutes to see a doctor at a walk-in clinic — 20 minutes longer than in 2021.

Teddy Wickland, the vice president of operations for Medimap, said a lack of doctors and more patients are the two main factors driving longer wait times.

“We're hearing, frankly, horror stories, just in terms of how busy [doctors] are and how hard it is for them to do their jobs effectively, given the current environment,” Wickland told CTV News.

“The life of a walk-in clinic provider is difficult. You're operating in five-minute increments all day … A lot of providers are disheartened by that because they got into medicine to build relationships with patients, to keep patients healthy, and they're not able to do that in the current environment because there's so much of a strain on the very few providers that actually exist.” 

(Medimap)

The data found Regina had the fastest turnaround time to see a physician at 39 minutes, while Moose Jaw was the slowest at 78 minutes.

“There are many factors that affect the waiting times at walk-in clinics, including the number of physicians available, patient load, complexity of cases and emergencies taking priority,” the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan wrote in a statement to CTV News.

The college said it is not involved in physician recruitment or training, but recognized “there is an undersupply of physicians in all areas of Canada.”

Meanwhile, the province said the number of general practitioners is increasing in Saskatchewan.

There were 965 active general practitioners in 2021-2022, according to the Ministry of Health. In 2020-2021, there were 900.

A spokesperson for the ministry said the province is prioritizing strategies to enhance physician recruitment and retention, including dedicating $3.5 million to the efforts in the latest budget.

Nationally, Saskatchewan’s wait time is average. Medimap found patients in Nova Scotia had to wait the longest at 83 minutes and Ontario had to wait the least at 25 minutes. 

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