N.S. physician wait-list hits record high
The wait-list to secure a family physician or nurse practitioner in Nova Scotia has ballooned over the past year-and-a-half and is sitting at an all-time high.
According to Nova Scotia Health's November data, more than 81,000 Nova Scotians are registered to find a primary-care provider.
"Over the last 12-to-18 months, the number on the registry has grown by approximately 30,000," said Matthew Murphy, director of performance, analytics and accountability at Nova Scotia Health.
Joanne Downey from Eastern Passage is one of those patients. She lives with a long list of conditions -- includingmyofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia -- and has been waiting for two years.
"I haven't had one in about two years," Downey said. "He went into retirement."
Fixing health care was the key pillar of the Progressive Conservatives' election platform.
"We have a number of plans and of course one of them is that we'll make virtual care available to everyone on that list," Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said. "Things are probably going to get worse before they get better."
The solution may also be driving more people to register for the wait-list.
"You need to be on the registry to be attached to virtual care Nova Scotia," Murphy said. "We do expect that to drive numbers a little bit."
While it's possible some patients haven't removed themselves from the list, Doctors Nova Scotia believes the need could be even higher than what is reported and that need is growing as more doctors retire.
"Twenty-five per cent of family doctors in Nova Scotia are over the age of 60. Twenty three per cent of specialists are over the age of 60," Dr. Heather Johnson of Doctors Nova Scotia said.
The new Office of Healthcare Professionals Recruitment is reaching out to health-care professionals across the country. In the last 48 hours, Dr. Kevin Orrell said he had personally spoken with eight physicians.
"Six of whom are extremely interested in the province and interested in coming," he said.
"The office is finding its rhythm now. And I think it's becoming well-known, so people are aware if they contact us there will be some response."