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Canadians Wait Longest to See Family Doctors, Survey Finds

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Several years ago Michael Moore painted a fairly rosy picture of Canada’s healthcare system in his film Sicko. However, a new survey of eleven OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries has found that Canadian patients are waiting a long time to see their family doctors.

In fact, such wait times are reportedly longer in Canada than in any other nation participating in the survey.

This was the finding of the OECD’s 2013 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of the General Public. The associated report, which is titled “Where You Live Matters: Canadian views on healthcare quality,” provided a comprehensive comparison of healthcare systems in Australia, France, Germany, Holland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain, the United States, and Canada.

Canada fared poorest in doctor wait times. The survey found that less than half of the Canadians participating in the study could get an appointment with their doctor on the same day or day following such a request. In some provinces only 31 per cent said they could get an appointment by the following day.

That’s significantly worse than the situation facing citizens of the United States, where 48 per cent of respondents said they could get an appointment to see their family doctor by the following day.

But the United States finished second-last. Topping the list was Germany, with 76 per cent of German respondents saying they could book a same-day or following day appointment with their family doctor.

However, the OECD survey also found that Canadians remain generally satisfied with their healthcare system. Almost half of all respondents said that “on the whole, the system works pretty well and only minor changes are needed.” That’s up significantly from 2004, when only about one in five respondents answered that way.

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