06/24/2015 12:31 EDT | Updated 06/24/2016 05:59 EDT

Kamloops' only cancer specialist left alone amid recruitment drought

The city of Kamloops in British Columbia's Okanagan region is down to only one cancer specialist, after attempts to recruit more doctors failed.

Royal Inland Hospital is supposed to have three oncologists, but the BC Cancer Agency says it's having no luck in recruiting because many oncologists prefer to train in big centres with lots of resources.

"So they want to practise with lots of colleagues, they want to have radiation oncology on site, and they want to sub-specialize," Dr. Marianne Taylor, vice president of Systemic Therapy, told Daybreak Kamloops.

"They don't want to be general oncologists, generally."

Consultation via video link

Currently, the one oncologist practising in Kamloops is responsible only for his current patients, while new ones get diverted to Kelowna, 108 kilometres away.

Taylor says the idea for now is for Kamloops patients to get a consultation in Kelowna, but receive certain treatments at home. Some patients have also had consultations via video link so they wouldn't have to travel.

Aside from ongoing efforts to recruit two more oncologists in Kamloops, Taylor says there are also plans to hire a nurse, a clerk and more family doctors to address the shortage.

Listen to the interview: Kamloops is down to just one cancer specialist. Why is it so hard to recruit oncologists?