Task Force will address primary care physician shortage in Dufferin County and Town of Caledon
Hills of Headwaters Collaborative Ontario Health Team (HOHC OHT) launched a Physician Recruitment and Retention Task Force this month to address the shortage of primary care physicians in the Town of Caledon and Dufferin County, and work on strategies to recruit new physicians to the area.
The inaugural Task Force Meeting took place Thursday, February 23, with a number of community leaders and local politicians in attendance. The Task Force outlined priorities in recruitment and retention of family physicians and aims to work with government and community stakeholders in creating an actionable plan to improve the way the community receives care.
In the last few months, there have been recent changes in the number of family physicians serving the Dufferin and Caledon area, with physicians moving their practices elsewhere, retiring or ceasing to practice altogether. This shortage will increase the number of patients seeking emergency care and urgent care clinics, and compound current capacity pressures in primary, community and local hospital systems. The Task Force estimates that 14 more primary care physicians are needed in Dufferin and 29 more in Caledon by 2031 in order meet the needs of the communities.
“We know that having a regular care provider greatly improves health outcomes, reduces mortality, decreases hospitalizations and reduces healthcare costs. We look forward to working with HOHC OHT and other community stakeholders to address this shortage and ensure equitable access to health care is available to everyone in our community,” said Lisa Post, Mayor, Town of Orangeville.
“I am pleased we are working together with Hills of Headwaters Collaborative Ontario Health Team. When we work together great things can happen. Access to local physicians is important for the health of Caledon and as a team we can better address the shortage of family physicians we are experiencing,” said Annette Groves, Mayor, Town of Caledon.
“As part of this work ahead we have identified the need to establish a Physician Recruitment and Retention Task Force. The task force will look at our current providers and how we can support them, identify new opportunities, look at gaps, attracting new providers and how we can support them. I look forward to the team’s collaboration for solutions and support,” added Groves.
According to HOHC OHT data, there are more than 4,000 people in the Dufferin and Caledon area who do not have a family physician. This accounts for about 5.3% of the Dufferin-Caledon population.
“About one in 20 people within our OHT geographic catchment area don’t have regular access to a primary care physician,” said Lianne Barbour, Executive Director, Dufferin Area Family Health Team, and co-chair of HOHC OHT. “As we work to improve the continuum of care in the community, it is critical that we address these concerns as a community, bringing together leaders across both Dufferin and Caledon who are committed to both attracting and keeping local family physicians.”
“We are thrilled to be part of the Task Force, acknowledging the important connection between primary care physicians, specialists, and community partners in providing care to people across our communities. We see the benefits of a connected approach to encouraging health care providers to choose our region as their preferred place to practice. Our community has so much to offer,” said Annette Jones, Vice President, Patient Experience, Health Integration, Chief Nursing and Health Disciplines Executive, Headwaters Health Care Centre and co-chair, HOHC OHT.
The goal of the task force is to initially focus on the recruitment of family physicians, with the aim to expand its work to recruitment of other health care providers and specialists in order to better serve the community. For more information on the work being done by HOHC OHT, visit hillsofheadwaterscollaborative.ca