Province Releases Physician Resource Plan

Health and Wellness

May 9, 2012 10:29 AM

The province is acting to ensure more Nova Scotians have access to doctors and other care providers.

Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald today, May 9, released the Physician Resource Plan, which identifies several ways to improve planning and management of the province's physician workforce to better meet the needs of Nova Scotians.

The plan is part of the government's commitment to provide better care sooner by improving access to doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals, especially in smaller communities.

"Every Nova Scotian should have timely access to a family doctor and primary care," said Ms. MacDonald. "Providing better care sooner means taking action so Nova Scotians have choices beyond visiting an emergency room because they cannot see a doctor. These changes make sense, and will help ensure Nova Scotians have access to the care they need, when and where they need it."

The province released its action plan, Shaping Our Physician Workforce, after reviewing the Physician Resource Plan, prepared by Social Sector Metrics and Health Intelligence Inc.

The report recommends changing the mix and distribution of doctors over time by making more strategic decisions when recruiting and replacing them , and taking action to influence and manage the future supply of physicians to better meet the needs of Nova Scotians. The report also presents a tool to help make better decisions on physician planning.

The province will work to increase access to primary care, improve physician recruitment and retention, provide more accurate and reliable information to patients and influence the number and type of doctors trained.

"It is clear that change is needed," said Ms. MacDonald. "Government now has a tool to help reshape the province's physician workforce over the next several years to better meet the needs of Nova Scotians across the province."

The province's initial actions include commitments to:

-- invest in four new collaborative primary care teams this year in communities of need and provide additional support to existing teams
-- provide additional incentives for doctors practicing in communities of need
-- work with Dalhousie University's medical school to increase the number of family doctors trained in Nova Scotia
-- strengthen efforts to recruit and retain physicians where they are needed most

As part of its efforts to provide better care sooner, government asked for a detailed profile of the province's physician workforce and a forecast of the number, mix and distribution of physicians needed to meet the needs of Nova Scotians over the next 10 years.

Social Sector Metrics worked with an advisory committee that included representatives from the Department of Health and Wellness, Doctors Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University's medical school, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, district health authorities and the IWK. It submitted its report in January.

"As a doctor working in a rural area, I have seen the challenges my patients and their families face accessing care in their communities," said Dr. John Chiasson, president of Doctors Nova Scotia. "Because of the data and information we now have, we're better able to understand the needs of communities. Today marks an important step towards ensuring that Nova Scotians receive the care they need, where they need it."

The province committed to working with physicians and other interested groups, including Doctors Nova Scotia, district health authorities, the IWK and Dalhousie University's medical school to develop other initiatives in response to the report.

"This is the first step in a 10-year plan," said Dr. Preston Smith, Dalhousie medical school's senior associate dean. "This information is important because it will allow us -- the medical school, our teaching hospitals and the province -- to better match physician training and supply with the health care needs of Nova Scotians."

For more information about physician resource planning, visit http://www.gov.ns.ca/health/shapingPhysicianWorkforce/ .


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     The province is acting to ensure more Nova Scotians have

access to doctors and other care providers.

     Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald today

(May 9th), released the Physician Resource Plan, which identifies

several ways to improve planning and management of the province's

physician workforce to better meet the needs of Nova Scotians.

     Ms. MacDonald says the changes make sense, and will help

ensure Nova Scotians have access to the care they need, when and

where they need it.

     The province's action plan, Shaping Our Physician Workforce,

comes after reviewing the Physician Resource Plan, prepared by

Social Sector Metrics and Health Intelligence Inc.

     The report recommends changing the mix and distribution of

doctors over time by making more strategic decisions when

recruiting and replacing them, and influencing and managing the

future supply of physicians to better meet the needs of Nova

Scotians.

     For more information about physician resource planning,

visit w-w-w dot gov dot n-s dot c-a.

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Media Contact: Theresa Hawkesworth
              Health and Wellness
              902-424-6883
              Cell: 902-719-5004
              E-mail: Theresa.Hawkesworth@gov.ns.ca