Annapolis Valley Register

List of Nova Scotians seeking family doctor grows


The list of Nova Scotians looking for a family health-care provider keeps growing as more people join the registry, even as thousands find spots at practices.

According to the monthly progress report from the Nova Scotia Health Authority, more than 3,800 Nova Scotians found family doctors in Nova Scotia in September but the overall total number of people who are still looking has risen to more than 58,000.

Kathy Bell, director of primary health care for the Eastern zone, said the discrepanc­y is because more people are always joining the list.

“People are always coming onto the registry, which is great, because we’re promoting that,” Bell said.

“We would like everyone that needs a provider to get in the registry, that way it helps us for planning, it facilitate­s having upto-date lists for sharing with practices when they have the capacity to take on more patients, but we recognize that not everybody may be wanting to use that methodolog­y. It’s a choice to use it.”

As of Oct. 1, there were 58,046 people on the registry. That’s up from 56,630 as of Sept. 1, a net increase of 1,416 people. There were 3,816 people who found doctors in September, some from the registry but also some who were not on the registry at all but found practices through one of a num- ber of possible ways, Bell said.

“We’re now reporting on as many as we get informatio­n on that have found a provider, so that includes more than the route of the registry itself. So, we get lists from practices

of patients that they take on to their practice. So that then becomes the sum total of people who have found a provider.”

There were more people who found doctors in September than who joined the registry, Bell said, but the gains were not seen on the list because a portion of those who did find providers were not registered in the first place and consequent­ly did not come off the total.

So on the face of it, while it looks like little headway is being made, Bell said the reverse is true.

More than 32,000 people have found a family practice since November 2016. Some came through the registry, others from lists they have in their office, family members of existing patients or from practices of colleagues who have left.

“It’s important to acknowledg­e there’s other work going on, that providers, physicians and nurse practition­ers in practices are taking on people outside of the registry as well,” Bell said.

The practices notify NSHA of those new patients and the authority cross-references it with the registry.

People can also call 811 at any time to report that they have found a provider and can come off the registry. They can also do that online.

Bell credits media, community engagement and word-of-mouth in making people aware of the registry so that more people sign on. It’s the NSHA’s goal as well as a challenge to have more people join the list.

“I’m quite proud to say I think there’s great work happening,” Bell said.

“On a daily basis, the providers in Nova Scotia are doing great work and when they can, they’re taking on patients.”

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