Doctor review concerns
Souris residents worried they might lose fourth doctor
Residents of Souris are worried their community’s fourth family doctor will be shuffled to Charlottetown as a result of a physician complement review currently underway at Health P.E.I.
The issue was raised in the P.E.I. legislature Friday when Souris-Elmira MLA Colin LaVie pointed to a promise Premier Wade MacLauchlan made during the recent election that “a Liberal government will maintain four family doctors in Souris.”
Souris currently has a complement of four family doctors, but one of those positions has been vacant for some time.
Health Minister Doug Currie said Friday there are not enough patients in the area in need of a family doctor, so Health P.E.I. is not currently recruiting for that fourth position.
“For us to be recruiting for a fourth when there’s nobody identified on the (patient) registry… right now we’re not actively recruiting because there’s other areas of the province in need of physicians,” Currie said.
This is why residents are now concerned with a Health P.E.I. review of family doctor allotments in communities across P.E.I. with the idea of possibly redistributing physicians to better suit population demands.
Currie says the review is necessary because population and demographic shifts as well as changes in the way physicians manage their practices have led to different needs since the 1990s, when the current complements were created.
The family doctor complement for Queens County areas are full, yet there are currently 3,200 Queens County residents on the patient registry.
Meanwhile, Souris’s fourth doctor position has been vacant for some time, yet there are currently only 325 patients on the registry looking for a family physician.
During question period, LaVie accused government of targeting this physician review solely around Souris.
“This is the government that promised every Islander a doctor,” LaVie said.
“You ordered Health P.E.I. to review doctor complements in Souris. What triggered this review?”
Currie stressed the review is not focused only on Souris, but will be a province-wide review of the medical needs of the population and the current distribution of physicians. Discussions will include doctors, the Medical Society and other stakeholders.
In the meantime, Souris will keep its complement of four doctors, although the fourth position will remain vacant until there is more demand in the area. One of the three physicians currently practicing in the area is retiring, and Health P.E.I. is actively recruiting for this position, Currie said.
“We’re not changing the complement,” he said.
“We’ll monitor the registry in the eastern part of the province and if we see an intense demand and rise in the registry, we’ll certainly respond to that, but right now our focus is in filling the third position.”
Colin LaVie, centre, MLA for Souris-Elmira, talks with fellow MLAs Alan McIsaac, left, and Allen Roach, prior to a recent sitting of the P.E.I. legislature. In the legislature on Friday, LaVie raised concerns that the Souris area could lose a fourth doctor which is part of the complement for the area, although not currently filled.