Availability of family doctors in N.S. goes under the Auditor General’s microscope
Following years of controversy over the availability of family doctors in Nova Scotia and mounting concerns about a shortage, Auditor General Michael Pickup will release a report Wednesday on family doctor resourcing.
His report comes amid warnings from Doctors Nova Scotia that the shortage of family doctors will only worsen as more doctors retire, and the list of people waiting for a family doctor grows.
As of Nov. 1, there were 39,965 signed up on the provincial wait list. A number that has grown since it was launched just over one year ago. In that same time, 5,262 people were removed from the list because they were linked up with a primary care provider, according to the health authority.’
While Statistics Canada numbers, in the meantime, suggest that 91,800 people in Nova Scotia (over the age of 12) don’t have a regular health-care provider.
The latest physician resource plan says the province has to recruit 51.2 family physicians per year.
The health authority says in the last year it recruited 43 family doctors.
But the current demands are well above those numbers. The health authority has 71 postings for full-time family doctors across Nova Scotia and another 23 open postings for part-time and locum positions.
The auditor general’s website says his audit will “examine the province’s strategies and processes for managing family physician resources. We will also look at the communications of those plans and processes to Nova Scotians.”
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Political science professor Katherine Fierlbeck told Global News that she hopes the report will bring clarity to the issue.
“It’s a perfect storm,” she said. “Nova Scotia itself is not going through anything that any other jurisdiction is not going through. The problem is that we have the same issues bigger, and deeper, and harder than most other jurisdictions.”
She said those problems include the distraction of the reorganizations of the health authorities and the health department and a lack of primary care and continuing care strategies.
Pickup’s audit will be released on Wednesday morning. He will also release reports on mental health services in the province and the management of home care support contracts.
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