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2 doctors resign over labour challenges in Saint-Quentin, N.B.

Doctor checks blood pressure
Burnout is real possibility for a majority of doctors in the province according to a Saskatchewan Medical Association survey. Kevin Godwin/Global News

Vitalite Health Network has confirmed that two doctors in Saint-Quentin, N.B., have resigned.

In a press release Vitalite, the body that oversees medical services in the Restigouche West region, touched on the challenges doctors face while delivering health care services in rural New Brunswick.

“This situation is concerning and our first thoughts are for the patients of the Restigouche West region,” wrote Dr. France Desrosiers, Vitalite’s vice president of medical services, research and training.

“This is why we are working intensively with our doctors, health professionals and community partners to find solutions and ensure that services are sustainable,”

Desrosiers points to a shortage of qualified health professionals in rural areas. Vitalite says it needs 154 nurses and 71 doctors to fill positions across the mainly francophone organization.

READ MORE: N.B. needs to hire 1,600 nurses in 5 years to keep up with demand

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The two doctors in Saint-Quentin, N.B., saw approximately 2,400 patients in the area.

“We wish to assure the people of Restigouche West that we will be ramping up our recruitment efforts in coming weeks in order to be able to meet their needs as satisfactorily as possible,” said Desrosiers.

She highlighted the potential hiring of a nurse practitioner in order to help maintain service in the region.  Desrosiers said doctor recruitment is something they are working on and would like to see stakeholders join the discussion about how to recruit health care professionals.

It’s a move the People’s Alliance’s health critic would like to see happen.

“We have nurse practitioners that aren’t working right now that are looking for full-time work so we need to be able to implement them into the health system and get them to work too, I think that would alleviate some of it,” said MLA Michelle Conroy.

That’s also a conversation the Liberal party has been trying to have with the provinces Health Minister Ted Flemming.  They requested an emergency meeting with the health minister back in March.

“He (Flemming) said there’s no need to call an emergency meeting, I mean the health system is in crisis, it is a situation that’s occurring everywhere. We have units that are closing in some areas like Chaleur (regional hospital) in Bathurst area, the Campbellton area for at least a week or two,” explains Liberal Health critic JC D’Amours.

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Flemming was unavailable for comment about the resignations but spoke publicly last week about the importance of attracting students to the health care industry.

“We’ve got to get into the high schools and we’ve got to encourage people that this is a profession where there will be employment,” Flemming told reporters on June 4, 2019.

READ MORE: ‘It’s a travesty’: Nearly 800 criminal cases thrown out over delays since 2016 Jordan decision

The Liberals continue to point to an $8.7 million cut to the provincial nurse training budget which the province says occurred because it was a struggle to get nurses in those funded seats.

Meantime the obstetrics unit remains closed at the Campbellton Regional Hospital until at least June 12 due to a staffing shortage.