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Doctor wait list in NS grows again

Evidence suggests the shortage of family doctors is getting worse.
Evidence suggests the shortage of family doctors is getting worse.

he number of people who told the province that they don’t have a doctor jumped in November.

There were 4,314 new registrants on the NovaScotia Health Authority’s

Need a Family Practice list as of Dec. 1, bringing the total to 42,198. That total takes into account those who found a doctor or people who have moved, health authority spokesman John Gillis said in an email Tuesday.

These numbers apply only to those who have confirmed online or through 811 they don’t have a doctor. The actual number, according to sources such as Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information, is closer to 100,000 or even higher.

“We know this official list is just the tip of

the iceberg,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill in a news release Tuesday. “The Liberals need to start investing in people’s health rather than focusing on their budget surplus.”

The increase over last month wasn’t unusual compared to previous months, Gillis said. He noted that the October statistics jumped by 4,144 new registrants compared to September.

Most people on the doctorless 

ist updated on Dec. 1 — 21,608 — are from the health authority’s central zone, which includes Halifax Regional Municipality, the Eastern Shore and East Hants.

The other zones broke down as: Western (Annapolis Valley, Southwest, South Shore) 11,775; Eastern (Cape Breton, Antigonish, Guysborough) 3,821; and Northern (Colchester, Cumberland, Pictou County) 4,953.

Nova Scotia’s auditor general has criticized the registry system for not ensuring people withserious health concerns are actually connected

with a doctor.

Michael Pickup’s Nov. 22 report said the list is of limited usefulness because it doesn’t place a priority based on health history or the person’s condition.

Pickup also criticized health officials for poor communication to the public about the registry list and other health programs. That drew an angry response from Premier Stephen McNeil, who said Pickup had exceeded his authority by commenting on policy.

The 811 line has also caused frustrations forthose who couldn’t get through to register their

names. A Dartmouth senior told The Chronicle Herald last month that he’d made over 20 attempts over a few days and kept receiving a “system overload” message.

Gillis said the call volumes have declined to “usual/manageable levels.”

 

 

-JOHN MCPHEE

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