Cape Breton doctors make impassioned plea to fix ‘broken health care system’
Doctors in Cape Breton are pleading with politicians from all parties to fix what they say is a broken health care system.
On Friday, seven Cape Breton physicians held a rare news conference. They say they needed to speak out, after learning six more specialists and general practitioners from the island will be leaving in May and June.
“To not recognize this as a crisis situation in our province is absolutely tragic,” says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Orrell. “I am convinced we haven't seen the bottom of it and I’m very, very disappointed in that.”
The rally comes less than four days before the Nova Scotia election. It was billed as a nonpartisan event, but there were people in the crowd representing all three major political parties.
“We are not fear mongering, as some politicians would suggest,” says Dr. Mike MacDonald. “The reason I’m here, and many of my colleague, is our medical code of ethics.”
Doctors spoke with a sense of urgency, worry and frustration.
“It is life threating emergencies I’m referring too, and if those were to take place now in Cape Breton the people will not survive a trip to Halifax,” says Dr. Orrell.
Doctors say one of the biggest problems they’ve been facing was the move to one provincial health authority, limiting the ability to recruit and retain physicians.
“When all the decision making is in Halifax, there's really not much interest in either keeping a robust medical service here or accountability for that,” says Dr. Jeanie Ferguson.
Ferguson says doctors who want to come to Cape Breton are being refused because of the province's resource plan, which uses metrics to determine the number, mix and distribution of physicians needed across the province.
“We failed to recruit two young geriatricians to our area, even though Cape Breton was their top choice,” says Dr. MacDonald. “Ultimately, it was their vision and our resistance to change that failed to secure their services - not money.”
People at the rally said they hope whoever is elected next week will be able to change the fact that thousands are without a family doctor in the province.
“It seems to be getting worse,” says Sydney resident Bryan Lamey. “I don't even see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore