August no-doctor stats

Patients needing doctors since Jan1
Chart shows a steadily growing number of Nova Scotians who want but can’t find a family doctor. Halifax continues to represent about half the problem. See

We’re still losing ground to the physician shortage,

HRM still watching from the sidelines

On the one hand, the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s latest stats on patients without doctors are nothing new — just another increase of a few per cent from the previous month.

On the other hand, it’s like compound interest on credit card debt. Everything seems OK until one day you’re in too deep. And so we’ve gone from 41,877 people needing a family doctor in January to 54,915 today. That’s six per cent of the population. By way of perspective, most of us would be thrilled with a six per cent return on our savings. In pre-election polls, six per cent can mean a lock on victory.

But the bad news doesn’t seem to be for lack of effort from government, which has brought in two new programs since January and made an important improvement to a third.

On the face of it, we seem to have our act together.

  • Since February, NS Immigration has operated a “physician stream” under the provincial immigrant nominee program.
  • In April, the Department of Health and Wellness launched the Patient Attachment Incentive Trust. It offers physicians a one-time incentive of $150 per head to take on additional patients. The trust brought 7,536 people in from the cold since it began in April. That’s a clear success. (But, alas, during that same period the net tally of people seeking doctors grew by 9,360.)
  • DHW continues to offer tuition relief, bursaries, debt assistance and a site-visit program. And these incentives now put Halifax on an equal footing with the rest of the province.
  • edited CHN colour3e2
  • Area in red is “Metro Halifax”

All this makes it easier for recruiters working for the health authority and the IWK Health Centre. Let’s hope the effort starts paying off.

While we’re discussing effort, I note Metro Halifax (see map) consistently represents half of the provincial shortage, so it would be nice to see HRM contribute. Queens has an attractive website aimed at physician recruitment. Why not Halifax?


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