The province’s doctors have ratified two four-year contracts with government.
The contracts offer zero per cent, zero per cent, one per cent and 1.5 per cent increases and investments in a few areas most in need, such as hiring new specialists and supporting patient care by telephone.
“While physicians accepted the contract and welcomed modest critical investments, they were disappointed that this contract brought little innovation or opportunities to advance patient care,” said Dr. Michelle Dow, President of Doctors Nova Scotia. “With the contract negotiations behind us, we now need to turn our attention to issues that have gone unaddressed for far too long,” she added.
Estimates indicate between 50,000 to 100,000 Nova Scotians do not have access to a family doctor. Some communities have been without a doctor, both family physicians and specialists, for months if not longer. Physicians are worried about retiring, afraid they will abandon their patients without a replacement.
“Over the past three weeks we have met with more than 700 physicians,” said Dr. Dow. “The level of stress and concern they are expressing for their patients is significant.”
“Unfortunately this agreement does little to reassure physicians that the future looks brighter for their patients. I hope government will now listen to what physicians are saying and make changes so Nova Scotians can access the care they need and deserve,” she said.
“I’m hearing from physicians who want to stay in Nova Scotia but who have significant concerns with the changes to the health-care system they’ve witnessed over the past year and changes that may take effect in the years to come,” said Dr. Dow.
“I have colleagues that are ready to retire, some years earlier, but continue to practice in fear that their patients will be abandoned as government doesn’t seem to be placing any level of urgency on recruiting new doctors. At the same time, new graduates are saying they want to practice here, but they don’t know if they are wanted, so they are choosing other provinces instead,” she added.
Doctors Nova Scotia welcomes the opportunity to work with government to create a more stable and positive work environment for physicians so patients receive the care they need.
Doctors Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) will start meeting with physicians this summer. The aim is to have NSHA share its health transformation vision and its view of how physicians will be involved in that work while ensuring physicians have an opportunity to share their solutions for patient care in their communities. Through negotiations, the association has also secured physician participation in the process that approves where new physicians will be recruited.
The new four-year contracts will replace the 2008 Master Agreement and all previous academic funding plan (AFP) agreements beginning April 1, 2015 and ending March 31, 2019. The agreements impact more than 2,800 physicians.
The Master Agreement expired on March 31, 2015, some of the AFP agreements have been expired for many years.
Doctors Nova Scotia represents over 3,500 members. Membership includes practicing and retired physicians, medical students and residents. Incorporated in 1861, it’s the oldest medical association in Canada.
Barb Johnson, Doctors Nova Scotia
Tel: 902-481-4915 or by email doctorsns.com