Boroughs without doctors #2

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2,280 Haligonians lose their family physicians in two months

The number of citizens in Metro who want but cannot find a family doctor has passed the 23k mark, a notable but dubious achievement.

The March accountability report from the NS Health Authority showed 23,007 metro-dwellers without a family doctor, an increase of 2,280 from 20,727 in January. The NSHA says that kind of increase is not necessarily unusual. The next update is expected soon.

The provincial total rose to 44,158 from 41,877, an increase of 2,281. That means Metro Halifax effectively took the whole hit and now accounts for 52% of the entire family doctor shortage in the province. No NSHA zone or Community Health Network even approaches that number. (For these purposes I’m defining Metro as Bedford/Sackville, Dartmouth/Southest, and the Peninsulas of Halifax and Chebucto.)

In percentage terms, Metro citizens without doctors are 6.2% of its population, up from 5.6% in January. It’s the second-worst area by this measure after the hapless counties of Annapolis and Kings at 8.1% (6,390 out of a population of 78,507). But in raw numbers, Metro is the worst disaster in the province.

This is consistent with the instinct of successive governments to put rural Nova Scotia votes ahead of all else. Meanwhile, local MLAs and councillors stand around with their thumbs in their pockets.

Below is a chart highlighting the changes in Metro Halifax (yellow and red), the four NSHA management zones (white), and the Community Health Networks found in each (blue).

Negative numbers on the chart mean fewer people in the area are without family doctors, which is good; positive numbers mean the opposite. The problem seems to be that, likely at the end of the 2017 tax year, a lot of doctors jumped ship or retired.

Chart Jan 1 to March 1 V4

There is a belief in some quarters the cause of Halifax’s misery was a government decision to steer new doctors toward the countryside and away from Halifax by making it impossible to work here. In other words, government may have gone beyond mere rural incentives to actually barring new doctors from the capital city.

If true, it would be an act of treachery.

More in a future post.


2 thoughts on “Boroughs without doctors #2

  1. The numbers you are using are those who have signed on to the registry. It seems the numbers, province wide, are actually in excess of 100,000 without a doctor. Is it possible that in the metro area more people sign on to the registry while in the rural areas they don’t bother? Given the younger population in metro it may be that fewer sign on then in rural NS. One thing for sure; it’s a mess and an act of treachery by our provincial government however you look at it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I partially agree with Mr. Stockton. I don’t believe it’s necessarily because docs have left, I do feel it’s more likely that new people have signed on to the registry (and he makes an interesting suggestion about rural people being less likely to sign on). For instance, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the western zone in the coming month. We’ve had two docs here who’ve just left their practice, one the end of February and one the end of March. Technically there should then be about 2000 patients accounted for in the next numbers who need a doc. I’ll be surprised if it reflects that. And, as an aside, I found the most interesting element of the recent “raise” for family docs was the $7.50-per-patient list that we are now incentivized to create. I see the point of it from a DocsNS perspective (if our payment models are to move toward a capitation model), however it boggles my mind that the government wants to pay us to create a list of our patients so – I assume – they can get a better sense of who is being covered, and by whom? (If that makes sense?) How can you go on for years with successive governments of different stripes trying to implement solutions when – as the $7.50 list would suggest – they can’t identify the problem??? Shouldn’t that be part of the MSI billing data? I mean the “doc for every Nova Scotian” promise seems a little Trumpian in retrospect.

    Liked by 1 person

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