Nova Scotia has a doctor shortage and the Liberal government is doing nothing to keep a rural surgeon who wants to practice in Nova Scotia, Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster said today.
Antigonish and Inverness hospitals have lost a surgeon. A few weeks ago Dr. Jeannie MacGillivray sent notice to her patients that she would be unable to perform scheduled surgeries. She was resigning because the Nova Scotia Health Authority refused to allow her a better work/life balance, one which would allow her more time with each of her patients at no extra cost to government. This, despite the health authority’s recruiting policy that promotes the quality of life in Nova Scotia as a trade-off for lower rates of pay to provide care in predominantly rural areas.
“Twelve years ago I chose to move back to my hometown to raise my family precisely for these ‘intangibles’ of being surrounded by family and the rich benefits of living in this community and province,” said Dr. MacGillivray. “There are other areas of the country where surgeons can earn higher pay but I wanted to live here.”
With her resignation, Dr. MacGillivray faced the sudden withdrawal of her privileges to do surgeries at the Inverness hospital, which left her patients in limbo. Those patients had their surgeries cancelled just before they were about to have them. She was also not allowed to refer patients from her wait list to other surgeons. This meant those patients had to go back to the end of the waiting line and visit their family doctor again to be referred to another surgeon.
Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster has received many calls from patients of Dr. MacGillivray who are upset with what has happened.
“The Nova Scotia Health Authority did not put the needs of patients first,” said MacMaster. “They did not allow her to close her practice in a way that would best look after her patients who were waiting for their surgeries.”
“The loss of Dr. MacGillivray is a terrible blow to me,” said patient Alison Mustard. “She was also willing to travel to Inverness, which is a wonderful service that I am certain saved lives. Inverness has little to no public transportation; some residents do not have the ability to travel hundreds of kilometres for medical consultations or to have a simple procedure performed. She was willing to come here to help us. To me, she was a true hero and is greatly missed.”
Yvonne MacIsaac, another patient, wanted to speak in support of Dr. MacGillivray: “I firmly believe that these specialists need to be treated with the same compassion and respect that they show to their patients.”
Dr. MacGillivray visited Health Minister Randy Delorey, who is also the MLA for Antigonish, on October 29th to explain her situation. Despite explaining why she needed flexibility to continue to serve people living in the Minister’s own constituency, presenting a solution that helped another physician who wanted to cover for her, nothing was done to help her.
Minister Delorey’s constituency of Antigonish has lost 10 specialists this past year. Dr. MacGillivray resigned on November 30th.
“This is a failure of healthcare management,” said MacMaster. “This is why we are losing doctors and it is the public who suffers because of it. Why would the government allow their management to put the run on a surgeon whose work has been praised by her patients?”
“We need people like Dr. MacGillivray,” MacMaster concluded. “People are tired of a faceless health authority making bad decisions that are impacting people’s quality of life. At the end of the day it is Health Minister Randy Delorey who is in charge, and it is he who must fix what his health authority has broken.”