Physicians say barriers make it difficult to improve patient care

About 55 per cent of new doctors younger than 35 are women, according to the 2007 National Physicians Survey — an opinion poll answered by nearly 20,000 doctors nationally and released yesterday. Younger physicians coming up behind the boomer generation are opting out of longer hours.

"We have to bear in mind, even for women physicians with children under the age of five, these women are working 42 hours a week plus on-call time," said physician Francine Lemire, a family doctor who practises at Toronto Western Hospital but commutes here every 10 days from her home in Corner Brook, N.L.


The survey, conducted for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Canadian Medical Association and the College of Family Physicians of Canada, found many of Canada’s overworked doctors are frustrated by a lack of health funding, growing paperwork and an increased complexity in their patient caseload.

While 75 per cent of doctors say they are generally satisfied with their careers, they are frustrated by barriers to improve patient care.

Doctors find it difficult to find long-term care beds for their patients — 59 per cent of doctors who answered the survey rated access as fair to poor, and nearly 45 per cent said access to hospital care for elective procedures is fair to poor.

They are also concerned about the difficulty of finding psychiatric care for patients, said Dr. Brian Day, president of the Canadian Medical Association. Two-thirds of family doctors say access to psychiatrists is fair to poor.

24th in the world

  • There are nearly 4 million Canadians without doctors. Canada ranks 24th in the world in the number of doctors per capita, said Dr. Brian Day.