Ontarians deserves access to timely primary care — and a means to have their complaints heard and resolved when they don’t receive it.
By Star Editorial Board Wednesday, November 22, 2023 2 min to read
The familiar message arrived loud and clear from yet another booming voice in a chorus of health care experts: something is wrong with the state of primary health care.
According to a newly released annual report from Ontario’s Patient Ombudsman, the health system watchdog saw a 33 per cent increase in complaints over the previous year and a significant growth in complaints about issues outside its jurisdiction, most notably about primary care.
Officially, the patient ombudsman’s role exists to resolve complaints from patients, residents and caregivers about experiences in public hospitals, long-term care homes, home care, and community surgical and diagnostic centres.
However, of the more than 4,000 complaints the watchdog received in 2022-2023, 37 per cent involved concerns about service and organizations outside of its mandate — “more than the number of complaints about long-term care and home and community care combined.”
These complaints focused primarily on patients’ experiences with primary care or lack thereof, including challenges accessing a physician, accessing walk-in clinics, and difficulties booking appointments and receiving timely care.