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Doctor workforce is in danger, warns top Truro physician

Dr. Manoj Vohra is the new president of Doctors Nova Scotia.
Dr. Manoj Vohra is the new president of Doctors Nova Scotia.

TRURO – Doctors Nova Scotia is sounding the alarm as increasing numbers of physicians are “feeling disrespected and burnt out.”

And its president Dr. Manoj Vohra, a family doctor in Truro, says that a lack of trust between physicians and the province is at the root of many problems affecting health care. He spoke one day after Doctors NS met with government and Nova Scotia Health Authority officials Tuesday evening.

“The time for action is now. We must work together to make a meaningful difference for Nova Scotians,” said Dr. Vohra, who is also a family physician in Truro, in a release Wednesday.

Problems facing physicians include a breakdown of family medicine, the closing of rural specialty services, lost opportunities to embrace new technology, low job satisfaction and physician autonomy and an overall fragility of the doctor workforce, according to a new Doctors NS report released online.

Doctors NS says the first step to resolving these issues is a commitment from all health care partners to work together through a proposed Health System Physician Coordination Council.

The council will review and act upon the five physician recommendations aiming to improve and restore local decision-making and engagement of doctors, integrate existing recruitment initiatives to boost physician supply in Nova Scotia, reduce the burden of unsustainable workloads, restore full-scope family medicine and maintain rural specialty services.

“We’re looking for a commitment from all partners to work together to create a thriving physician workforce and the best possible health-care system for our patients,” said Vohra.

Minister of Health and Wellness Randy Delorey said that he had already spoken with physicians who had “great ideas” for reforming health care and will be reviewing the Doctors NS report.

“I’m taking the feedback I received seriously and am looking for ways to improve access to health care that benefits patients and health care providers,” said Delorey in an emailed statement to SaltWire Network.

NSHA president Janet Knox acknowledged in her own statement that recent changes in processes and since the NSHA transitioned from nine authorities to one had caused confusion and frustration among doctors.

“We’ve made some progress but there's no doubt we have a lot of work to do and we're going to move a lot further faster if we're working together. We value a collaborative approach. It's going to take all of us working together to build a health system that works and that is sustainable into the future,” said Knox.

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