Simply recruiting physicians to a broken system is not the answer
Charlottetown, PE – It is no secret Islanders are facing a crisis in the provision of health care services on Prince Edward Island. Under the previous Liberal government, Islanders watched things go from bad to worse. After twelve years of failure, it is not enough for the current PC government to continue following the road to nowhere built by the previous administration.
“We are facing a deeper problem than the recruitment of physicians alone,” states Trish Altass, Official Opposition Critic for Health and Wellness. “It is one thing to recruit a doctor, but that is simply not enough. We need to support our healthcare professionals, give them opportunities to grow and expand in their careers, and to be fully involved in decision making processes that affect them and their ability to provide the level of care they desire to give Islanders.”
Already this week we have heard about a physician having to move her practice from rural PEI to an urban centre due to the simple fact that she was not supported to find a suitable space to maintain her practice in Wellington. Similarly, government seems to have no plans to fill the position in Crapaud after that doctor moved his practice to Cornwall. It’s clear more must be done to retain our rural physicians.
The recent loss of two psychiatrists from Unit 9 is another example of a failure to retain essential healthcare professionals. Here, it seems high stress levels and extreme workloads led to burn out. Surprisingly, exit interviews with health care professionals leaving the province were not even being done until after the Green Opposition caucus called for them to be completed in December 2019.
“How many other doctors and health care professionals have left the Island in recent years due to stress and burnout? How are we able to address these issues if we have not been asking professionals why they are leaving or what supports they need? If the government persists in taking a passive approach in its retention efforts, the revolving door of healthcare professionals passing through our province will only continue to spin,” says Altass.
There needs to be more investment in addressing the continued problem of physician and health care professional shortages across the Island, or the pattern of physicians centralizing their practices in urban areas or leaving PEI all together will continue. We cannot continue relying on the failed policies and initiatives of the previous administration.
“Islanders are paying the price of inaction with their health and this is simply not acceptable,” says Altass, “I call on the government to explain to Islanders what strategy they are using to retain qualified professionals in our healthcare system. How is it ensuring their needs are being met and what measures are being implemented to improve retention rates?”
Originally published by the Office of the Official Opposition - Green Caucus, January 9, 2020.