Pharmacy owner accuses N.S. government of turning doctors away
Published Wednesday, March 8, 2017 6:35PM AST
As the Nova Scotia government confirmed there are tens of thousands of Nova Scotians without a family doctor, CTV News has learned the health department may be turning some doctors away from the province.
The owners of a pharmacy in the Halifax-area say they had a physician lined up to work in a clinic beside their store, but the province shot down the plan, because officials insist on having a say on where doctors work.
Husband and wife Glen and Dianne Ward own and operate a pharmacy in Hammonds Plains, N.S.
Dianne, the pharmacist, handles the drug dispensing, while Glen looks after the business side.
A couple of years ago, the Ward’s dreamed up the idea of expanding their business by opening a medical clinic next door. They were able to find a doctor from Toronto who was willing to staff the clinic, but after seeking approval from the province, they were stunned to learn it wasn't going to happen.
"This particular area didn't have a specific need for a new physician," explains Glen Ward.
Nova Scotia's doctor shortage was the topic of a committee meeting at the provincial legislature Wednesday, where the government revealed the results of a new registry tracking the number of Nova Scotians who don't have a doctor.
Turns out, as of two days ago, the number sits at 25,210.
"So we're working with that number every day to find ways to help them access care," says Janet Knox, President and CEO of the NS Health Authority.
The situation is so dire, the woman in charge of recruiting doctors admits she doesn't even have one anymore.
"She retired, and has not been replaced, so I'm left without a family doctor," says Dr. Lynne Harrigan of the N.S. Health Authority.
"Calling and putting your name on a list does not solve the problem at all, it just stretches the problem," says PC MLA Tim Houston.
The province insists relief is on the way with the introduction of a couple dozen nurse practitioners and family practice nurses. But a former health minister says that's not good enough.
"There's no timeline on when Nova Scotians will see this new plan implemented in Nova Scotia so that they can see a doctor," says NDP MLA Dave Wilson.
The province says it has recruited more than 70 new doctors since April of 2015.
CTV News asked Denise Perret, Nova Scotia's Deputy Health Minister about the situation at the Ward family pharmacy, but Perret says she's only had the job for six weeks and couldn't comment without knowing the specifics.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.