N.B. woman shocked at four-year wait time to see dermatologist

A Riverview, N.B., woman has written her MLA and Health Minister Dorothy Shephard in hopes of having her voice heard over wait times to see specialists.

Linda Lipton is hoping to be an advocate for people going through a similar situation as her.

Lipton was diagnosed with psoriasis almost 20 years ago and the itchiness and burning of her skin has recently gotten worse.

Her family doctor referred her to a dermatologist in Moncton and when she called she said she was told unless she has some form of skin cancer the wait time would be four years. She was also told that wait time is the same for all dermatologists in the province.

"I knew there would be a wait, maybe a year I was thinking. But four years is quite shocking and unacceptable. At the rate my psoriasis is progressing now, it makes me wonder what I'll be like in four years from now," said Lipton.

She needs to see a specialist to discuss different treatment options and patient support programs, which can be costly.

Lipton feels like she's slipped through the cracks of the health care system.

"I do feel like it, especially being told four years, and the comment I was told by the receptionist at the [doctor's] office was basically, 'Well, if you don't have skin cancer you're way at the bottom.' I understand cancer is a very serious thing, but other health conditions shouldn't be put to the wayside," she said.

Dr. Mark MacMillan, the president of the New Brunswick Medical Society, shares Lipton's frustration and hopes she'll be able to see a specialist soon.

"It's not that someone's falling through the cracks, it's that someone is in a system with extensive wait lists that has only been compounded over the last two and a half years by cancellations and the issue about the decrease in resources we have available. I completely feel for her and I'm compassionate about her concerns," said MacMillan.

In a statement to CTV News, the Department of Health said it's unable to comment on specific individuals or situations.

"The department is working with its health partners, including the regional health authorities, on the recruitment and retention of health professionals from many disciplines, including specialists," read the statement.

The statement also said the Department of Health recognizes there are immediate challenges facing health care delivery, but those challenges are also being experienced in other provinces.

"The regional health authorities can speak to the current waiting lists for healthcare services, including those delivered by specialists," the Department of Health stated.

Lipton was referred to a dermatologist who is part of the Vitalité Health Network. When asked to comment on Lipton's situation, a spokesperson for Vitalité​ said unfortunately he was too busy to respond.

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