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Langley doctors aim to up recruitment, ask for Township’s help

Connecting more than 30,000 people in Langley City and Township to doctors in four years is the goal
Ellen Peterson, executive director of the Langley Division of Family Practice, and Dr. Leo Wong spoke before Langley Township council on Feb. 13. (Screenshot)

A Langley organization of doctors told Township council it wants to recruit 21 more general practitioners and a dozen nurse practitioners, to help find physicians for the 24,000 local residents without a family doctor.

“Our goal is to get every resident of the Township of Langley a family doctor, or nurse practitioner, which has been a really big challenge in the province of B.C.,” said Ellen Peterson, executive director of the Langley Division of Family Practice.

There are currently 82 family doctors for the area, Peterson told the council on Monday, Feb. 13.

Many of those doctors also work in Langley Memorial Hospital outside of their practices, doing work like long term care, delivering babies, and doing palliative medicine.

“They’re tired, and they need a bit of a break,” said Peterson.

She said challenges faced by local family doctors include growing mental illness and substance abuse issues, a growing population of frail seniors, and a need for more care for on- and off-reserve Indigenous residents.

Across Langley City and Township, the Division hopes to attach 34,000 people to doctors in the next four years.

“We do think we can do it, we’ve recruited about 70 doctors in the last 10 years,” Peterson said.

She and Dr. Leo Wong, the primary care physician network lead for Langley, were at the Township to ask for some help from local leaders to getting more doctors in Langley, as well as more resources for the health system.

“We don’t know politics and we’re not very good at it, and we don’t have time to learn,” Peterson said.

She asked the Township to advocate for them politically.

“We need resources, clinical resources, to come to Langley as quickly as possible.”

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In addition, she and Wong asked about what the Township could do to help make more space available for doctors’ clinics and health initiatives.

That might mean making Township facilities available for temporary clinics and pop-up medical events, or in the longer term, whether it’s possible to incorporate more space in upcoming developments to be set aside for doctor’s practices.

“We have practices that are so successful they’re out of space,” said Peterson.

Mayor Eric Woodward called for a motion to ask Township staff to put together a report on options for that sort of development.

Several councillors also asked about strategies for recruiting, and Peterson noted that the new payment model for family physicians in B.C. will likely help, and may allow for recruitment of disgruntled doctors from Ontario or Alberta.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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