PC MLAs support call for inquiry into reasons doctors leaving Cape Breton

June 13, 2016 at 3:06 pm

MacLeod, Orrell want premier to get to bottom of chronic doctor shortage

SYDNEY, NS – Cape Breton Progressive Conservative MLAs Alfie MacLeod and Eddie Orrell are calling on Premier Stephen McNeil to join them in their support for an inquiry into why doctors are leaving the island.

Alfie MacLeod

This past Sunday, over 1,000 people attended a public meeting in Sydney about the family doctor shortage in Cape Breton. Dr. Craig Stone, an anesthesiologist, called for a public inquiry into the shortage.

“We have to get to the root of the problem,” says Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg MLA Alfie MacLeod. “The Liberals cannot put their heads in the sand and ignore this problem any longer.”

Despite an invite, Health Minister Leo Glavine was a no-show at Sunday’s meeting. The premier is scheduled to be in Sydney tomorrow and MacLeod says he should come with answers.

“It’s very simple,” says MacLeod. “Will he call an inquiry or not? The people have done their part, will he do his?”

MacLeod adds that an inquiry would give doctors a place to speak their mind without fear of discipline.

Dr. Jeanne Ferguson says nine more specialists plan to retire or leave the island in 2016, on top of the 13 the Nova Scotia Health Authority says were already lost in the past year.

Eddie Orrell

Northside-Westmount MLA Eddie Orrell says it is clear that the doctor shortage is indeed a crisis and Cape Bretoners know it.

“There are far too many unanswered questions with this crisis,” says Orrell. “The public meeting has started an important conversation, but it’s only the beginning. It’s up to the Liberals to take action and call an inquiry.”

Several doctors spoke at the meeting about the challenges they face practicing medicine in Cape Breton. Common themes included the fact that local decisions are now made in Halifax, physicians are being ignored and/or silenced by a fear of repercussions and the population is older with more complex illnesses.

Currently, there is no exit interview for doctors and specialists who resign or retire from practicing in Cape Breton. Implementing this would help the health authority learn more about why doctors are leaving, the challenges they face and what changes the NSHA must make to keep them here.

The premier is scheduled to be in Cape Breton tomorrow to speak at the Sydney Chamber of Commerce. MacLeod and Orrell understand that a strong economy and a strong healthcare system have to go together. They want the premier to commit to an inquiry into the rush of doctors and specialists leaving Cape Breton Island.