June 7, 2018 3:50 pm
Updated: June 7, 2018 5:28 pm

Number of Nova Scotians wait listed for family doctor tops 50,000

WATCH: There are currently 50,000 who are waiting for a family doctor. As Alexa MacLean reports, many physicians feel the numbers are an indication that the demand is insatiable.

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The waiting list for a doctor in Nova Scotia has not stopped growing and it reached a new high this June with 50,024 now on the list — or roughly 5.4 per cent of the province’s population.

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Nova Scotia’s new high comes even as the province announced that 319 doctors took on 2,893 patients in the first two months of the government’s patient incentive program, which aims to shorten the waiting list.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) released the numbers as part of its monthly data collected under the Need A Family Practice program, which attempts to match individuals without a family doctor or nurse practitioner.

READ: Doctors take on nearly 900 patients under new program: Nova Scotia

Dr. Manoj Vohra, a family doctor and president of Doctors Nova Scotia, says the numbers are an indication that the demand is insatiable.

“It’s a supply and demand issue,” he said in an interview on Thursday, adding that although there many patients looking for a doctor, retirements and burnout have begun to create a noticeable gap.

Vohra said that recruiting doctors to rural Nova Scotia has always been a challenge, but now that the shortage is hitting urban centres like Halifax and Dartmouth.

“[The problem is] extensive throughout the province,” he said.

“What we really have to do is recruit as a province, and as local communities.”

WATCH: Doctors Nova Scotia wants program to help physicians retire

The NSHA was not immediately able to provide a comment on the new figures.

Vohra says there are many things that the province and the NSHA have done to help doctors in the province, but that work still needs to be done.

“This is a difficult, difficult problem but we need to work together to try and find a solution,” Vohra said.

With files from Alexa MacLean 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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