Letter: Derth of dermatology doctors

To the editor:

B.C.’s worsening access to dermatology care is leaving this government very close to a breach of the Canada Health Act.

The act says: “The primary objective of Canadian health care policy is to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers.”

In addition to too few dermatologists overall in B.C., there is no dermatologist at all north of Kamloops, where only one 74-year-old dermatologist now practices outside the medical system. This leaves Prince George with no specialist.

Last week a 91-year-old woman with painful, debilitating psoriasis over most of her body, had to sit for 11 hours on a bus in order to get treatment.  Mary, (not her actual name), was told by her G.P. on June 3 that she needed to see a dermatologist. The earliest appointment she could get was with a Coquitlam dermatologist who would squeeze her in urgently on the July 8, instead of the usual six month wait.

Does this sound like reasonable access?

Because of the bus schedule, she had to overnight in a hotel. Mary was fortunate that she has a daughter in Coquitlam who took time off work to pick her up and give her a place to stay.

She is a World War II veteran who, quite frankly, expects better.

The Health Ministry has all the information that it needs to fix this problem. They remain unwilling to take this ever worsening situation seriously and resolve it.

There have been 25 positions advertised over the last three years, with no takers.  If you can’t get a dermatologist to move to Kelowna or Victoria, you’ve got to know you’re doing something wrong.

With a looming deadline for the province to reach a new agreement with the BC Medical Association, who set fees for doctors in B.C., the Premier needs to show some leadership on this issue.

B.C. patients request a response as to government’s plans to address dermatologic care in B.C.


Evert Tuyp,


president, BC Section of Dermatology



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