‘Urgent action’ required to keep MDs here, Doctors Manitoba says
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A doctors’ advocacy group is calling for urgent action from the province to keep physicians in Manitoba, which has one of the western world’s worst shortages.
Doctors Manitoba president Dr. Candace Bradshaw said the province is being “out-manoeuvred” by others in recruiting and retaining MDs, and is urging government to invest more money in community clinics, expand team-based care that goes beyond just doctors and nurses, and switch up family physician compensation models so practitioners can spend more time with patients.
The organization responded Wednesday to 20 national recommendations put forth in the House of Commons earlier this month. The report from Canada’s standing committee on health addressing the workforce crisis asks the federal government to establish a pan-Canadian strategy on health-care human resources and wants to see policies that make it easier for qualified Canadian and international medical students to complete their education and residencies.
The reports urges federal, provincial and territorial governments to work together to solve staff shortages and prioritize the mental well-being of health-care workers.
Canada has one of the lowest per capita numbers of physicians and acute-care hospital beds, the national report shows.
Bradshaw said that means Manitoba, with the lowest number of per capita doctors in Canada, has one of the worst doctor shortages among 28 countries. The province needs 405 additional physicians to reach the national average, “which is clearly inadequate compared to leading nations around the world,” she said.
“Urgent action” is still needed to retain Manitoba doctors in addition to the progress she said the government has already made with recent provincial-budget increases, commitments to reduce red tape for physicians and increase residency spots, as well as a willingness from regulatory bodies to streamline registration processes for internationally-trained medical professionals, she said.
Government funding to boost community clinics would “go a long way,” Bradshaw said.
“Other provinces are kicking in and helping physicians out with these things, and we have yet to see that here in Manitoba, so that is probably one of the most pressing, urgent needs that we have,” she said, adding that team-based care models that rely more heavily on allied health professionals are being more widely used in Ontario, Alberta and B.C.
“It’s happening in other provinces. We’re being out-manoeuvred, and we need to not only catch up, but become creative and make this special to just Manitoba.”
Doctors Manitoba has previously surveyed physicians and reported 43 per cent of the province’s doctors signalled their intention to retire, move away or reduce their clinic hours in the coming years.
A government spokesperson said the province has added 80 seats for international students in medical school and made progress under its health human resources action plan.
Since the action plan was announced in November, 45 physicians and 17 physician assistants and clinical assistants have been hired, the spokesperson said in an email.
“We recognize more work needs to be done, and we look forward to providing additional Health Human Action Plan updates that will retain, train, and recruit Manitoba doctors soon.”
Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.