When the clock starts ticking: Wait times in primary care. Discussion Paper.

2006 Oct
College of Family Physicians of Canada.

For many years the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) has advocated on
behalf of Canadians for appropriate and timely access to all aspects of health care through
their family physicians. The College’s positions have taken into account the needs of
Canadians as patients waiting in line to receive services throughout the continuum of
their health care. This includes not just the wait time between the first visit with a
consulting specialist and the patient’s definitive procedure, surgery or treatment – but
also the time between the patient’s first visit with his/her family physician and when
required, a subsequent visit with a consultant. It also includes the time it takes for a
Canadian who does not have a family physician to find one. 

In examining this issue, it is apparent that measuring wait times in the primary care
environment is exceedingly complex and requires an appreciation of many different
interactions between the primary care system in which family physicians serve their
patients and more highly specialized care in other parts of the health system. For most
patients, wait times for more highly specialized services occur while they are under the
care of their family physician or as an important part of shared care between their family
physician and other consulting specialists. 

Copyright © 1996-2019 The College of Family Physicians of Canada