Hot topics in health care

Dr. Manoj Vohra talking to a crowd

Hot topics in health care

Health care is often in the news in Nova Scotia. There are three issues in particular that are priorities for Doctors Nova Scotia. These issues are complex and systemic, and resolving them will require the work of all stakeholder organizations. 

Physician recruitment and retention

The province’s Physician Resource Plan indicates there is a need to recruit more than 1,000 physicians, both family physicians and specialists, to Nova Scotia over the next 10 years. Physician compensation in Nova Scotia is the lowest in the country. Physicians are burned out and feeling disengaged from system transformation. To meet the need for physician recruitment, Nova Scotia must create an environment that encourages doctors practising in the province to stay and welcomes new physicians.

Doctors Nova Scotia believes:

  • Compensation must be competitive to encourage physicians to stay in Nova Scotia
  • Family medicine or primary care is the foundation of our health-care system
  • Specialist services are vital to regional hospital services and tertiary care centres
  • Flexibility is key in recruiting physicians to communities
  • Physicians must be engaged early in health system transformation work

Primary care renewal 

Providing good access to primary care is crucial to improving the health of Nova Scotians and the province’s health-care system. Statistics Canada indicates that approximately 10% of Nova Scotians don’t have a family doctor. Doctors Nova Scotia would like to see every Nova Scotian have access to a family doctor. When people don’t have good access to primary care, they miss out on regular screening and chronic disease management. This can result in delayed diagnoses, or mean that these patients see their condition worsen. In the absence of enough primary care physicians, specialists are being asked to provide primary care, which is outside of their scope of practice. They are concerned that these patients won’t receive the kind of care management that a family doctor would provide.

Doctors Nova Scotia believes:

  • A new primary care payment model is needed that allows physicians to spend the time needed with patients and to work in collaboration with other care providers, and that also incents improved access to care
  • Physicians must be engaged early in health system transformation work
  • Technology and non-face-to-face care should be better leveraged to improve access to care

Legal action

Doctors Nova Scotia is suing the provincial government on two contract breaches with physicians. The association worked for more than a year to resolve the issues, but it now requires a third party to resolve them. The issues under dispute are the government’s use of unapproved contracts for Alternative Payment Plan (APP) physicians and monies owed to Doctors Nova Scotia for the physicians’ health and dental plan and other benefits. 

Doctors Nova Scotia believes:

  • All doctors in the province could be affected if the contract issues are not addressed
  • Resolving these contract issues will help with the province’s current physician retention and recruitment challenges
  • Resolving the issues will allow all parties to solve some of the health-care system’s more significant challenges

Learn more about physicians’ views on our health system: