Thousands of patients let down by their doctor’s retirement: “It’s hell,” says one general practitioner

Thousands of patients let down by their doctor’s retirement: “It’s hell,” says one general practitioner

The soon-to-be-retired doctors from Laurentians are encouraged to “go through the hell” of having to abandon hundreds of patients without follow-up, even though many are very vulnerable.

• Read more: More doctors retiring at 60: “We’re not a separate species,” says 64-year-old general practitioner.

“It’s hell. Who am I going to give my 1300 patients to?” T asksR Louis-Jean Deslauriers is based in Saint-Agatha-des-Monts. We develop a very strong bond and end our lives on a bittersweet note. […] Many patients tell me: “You can’t go!”

Dr. Louis-Jean Deslauriers will retire in 2025, aged 65, as General Practitioner at Sainte-Agatha-des-Monts. Although he is relatively young, after a career of 40 years, he feels that he has given enough of his time to medicine.


“It blew me away,” Dee admitsR Richard Latulip, 69, practices in Mont-Laurier, Laurentians.

A general practitioner for 45 years, however, he warned his patients in 2021 that he would stop working in 2023. Posters were put up in his clinic, and his patients were encouraged to register at the Access Desk for a Doctor in the Family (GAMF).

A “good” situation

However, by 2023, only 600 out of 2,400 patients have found a doctor. So DR Latulip decided to continue.

The man, who plans to leave for good by the end of 2024, admits that “the situation is not good.” “I have a clientele that is difficult to let go of, many of whom are elderly or have chronic illnesses.”

Every year, thousands of Quebec patients find themselves orphaned overnight due to the retirement of their general practitioner. Even if they re-enroll in GAMF, many wait years before finding a doctor. Currently, 5,127 doctors in Quebec are over the age of 60, or 23% of the workforce. So the number of retirees will increase soon.

According to the Federation of General Practitioners of Quebec (FMOQ), the problem of patients dropping out due to retirement is widespread in the province, but worse in remote areas.

“For us, it was a disaster,” Di admitsR Martin de la Boissière, Secretary of the Board of Directors of FMOQ for Saguenay-Lac St-Jean.

The end of the contract at the First Line Access Center (GAP) for orphan patients from May 31 will put more pressure on the system.

In the small town of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, 14 family doctors left (retired, private) last year alone. For DR Deslauriers, 64, said his departure would leave hundreds of patients without follow-up. He recently underwent surgery, but his recovery has been slow.

“It’s very heartbreaking,” laments one who considered continuing part-time but ultimately opted for retirement for several reasons.

Very anxiety provoking

“It’s very anxiety-inducing for patients and very boring for me,” he notes. I love my patients and that’s what hurts me the most.

For these general practitioners who have been in the profession for more than 40 years, the job is very rewarding, but also exhausting.

“When you’ve been doing this for 45 years, it’s a part of you,” Dee admitsR Latulip is torn at the thought of leaving the patients behind. I love my job deeply.”

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