British Columbians are divided over how well the province’s health-care system is doing, according to a poll released on Friday.
The Leger poll conducted for The Vancouver Sun found 50 per cent of those surveyed think the system is good or very good, while 46 per cent believe it’s in poor or very poor shape. It also found that ratings are significantly worse in rural areas where more than half, or 58 per cent, said the health care is said terrible shape.
Steve Mossop, executive vice-president of Leger, said while he’s surprised about the overall good experience being reported, it is still concerning that nearly half of British Columbians are upset with the system.
“It’s really all about the wait times, and that’s where it falls flat,” he said. “If you look at not just past six months care, but at the past 12 months, experience in the (emergency room) is the same. We still have over 50 per cent saying the wait times are really poor or very poor.”
Use of emergency rooms in B.C. is very high, according to the poll, with more than a third, or 36 per cent, making a visit in the past six months. Many of those said the reason is because they don’t have a family doctor or the waiting times at medical clinics are too long.
“Thirty per cent are saying that (not having a doctor) is a factor in why they chose to go to the ER in the first place,” said Mossop.
“That’s contributing to the problem and I even hear anecdotal stories of doctors telling you ‘hey, if you can’t get in, just go to the ER’ and that’s a reflection of a broken system.”
More than half of respondents said the their last ER experience was good but 38 per cent said it was poor. However, when asked about the quality of care most, or 76 per cent, said it was good.
More than a third, or 39 per cent, of British Columbians would consider leaving Canada to another country to get medical care in future, the poll found.
While only 19 per cent would consider leaving Canada for a cosmetic medical procedure, 23 per cent would consider doing so for surgery, 25 per cent for a dental procedure and 26 per cent for another type of medical procedure, according to the poll.
“I think what’s happening with social media influence is there are a number of stories on TikTok or Instagram where people are saying ‘hey, I went to Turkey and I got a cosmetic procedure. And look at the beautiful hospital, look at the clean waiting rooms and look at the look at the quality of care I’m getting and then I’m going to sit by a pool for the rest of time or go explore the city,’” said Mossop.
“So it becomes more palatable. It sort of counters that perception that you’re going to a Third World country with dirty scalpels and unqualified doctors.”
He said this follows an earlier poll that showed that Canadians are more dissatisfied with their health care than Americans.
“It was a real shocker that the ratings were lower in Canada. … So this notion that Canadians have the best medical system in the world, which we’ve always thought and we’re proud of, is just not true.”
The survey of 1,000 British Columbian adults was conducted between June 2 and June 5 and has a probable margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.