Graph showing changes in the number of people waiting for a family doctor

May Reporting: Need a Family Practice Registry

21 days into this month, Nova Scotia Health released the latest Need a Family Practice Waitlist numbers.

As of May 1st, 158,375 Nova Scotians are waiting for a primary health provider – a doctor or nurse practitioner. That’s a new record – now 16% of our population is on the list; 1,111 people joined the list in April.

In September 2021, there were 75,180 people across the province waiting for a doctor or NP. As of May 1st, there are now 81,960 people in the Central Zone alone waiting for a primary care provider – nearly 7,000 more than were on the list for the *entire province* back in September 2021. As reporter Brian Flinn of AllNovaScotia noted, now more than half of the people on the waitlist live in the Central Zone.

Once again, most of the increase this past month was in Central Zone; there, 1,376 people joined the waitlist. The waitlist also increased in Eastern Zone (+60) and Northern Zone (+155); it declined in Western Zone (-480). The loss or addition of even one practitioner in a smaller zone can have a major impact on the list.

Currently, most of the people who are on the list are there because their health provider closed their practice, retired, or is retiring – 54.4 per cent. Conversely, 35.2 per cent are there because they are “new to the area”.

Last month, I began noting the areas (which the NS Health Authority calls “clusters”) where the waitlist is highest. Here they are for this month:

  • South Cumberland (31.3%)
  • New Glasgow/ Westville / Stellarton (27.1%)
  • Yarmouth (25%)
  • Halifax Citadel (23.1%)
  • Fairview (22.2 %)
  • Bedford – Hammonds Plains (21.9 %)
  • Amherst (20.9%)
  • Sackville North and Area (20.5%)
  • Halifax Needham (20.5 %)
  • Sackville South (20.4 %)

In the Bedford – Sackville network (which includes Bedford, Sackville, Hammonds Plains, Fall River, and surrounding areas), 22,504 people are waiting for a family practitioner. That’s a 418 per cent increase from September 2021, when there were 4,344 people on the waitlist.