The loss of doctors in Nova Scotia has less to do with retirements than crap working conditions.
Over the life of this website I have been made aware of and written about, the following departures:
2009 – Three geriatric specialists quit their Cape Breton practices. Not for retirement.
2011 – Two ER heads quit the VG in 12 months. No explanation.
2012 – A doctor told me they were one of 28 doctors who, in 23 months, quit their Cape Breton hospital practices. In Yarmouth, in 13 months six doctors quit their practices. No one from the health authorities or ministry asked any of these departing doctors why they were leaving and what could be done to alter their decision.
2013 – In January Pictou lost an orthopedic surgeon because he couldn’t get OR time, so he and his wife, a general practitioner, moved to Florida. The next month, with no money to pay her, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrea Veljkovic, who specialized in foot and ankles, left the province, taking her radiologist husband with her. They had been based at Valley Regional Hospital (VRH).
February 2013 was a big month for loss. In addition to Dr. Veljkovic, two top neuroscientists, Drs. Donald Weaver and Ivar Mendez, announced their departures. Dr. Weaver took his ten-person medical chemistry team to Toronto. Dr. Mendez, who is credited with bringing $72 million in research funds to Halifax, left for the Brain Repair Centre in Saskatoon. Other researchers who left the province include Dr. Michael Esser, who worked in Pediatric Epilepsy Research, and Dr. Ryan D’Arcy, who was a leading brain researcher.
2014 – In July a doctor recruited to practice in Digby left after a month in the community. No explanation.
2015 – An obstetrician/gynecologist quit VRH because he couldn’t get adequate OR time for his patient load. In Yarmouth, another OBGYN announced their departure. These were not retirements. The same month two Cape Breton geriatric specialists and an Antigonish OBGYN announced the closure of their practices. A French-trained doctor, who could only get work collecting blood, gave up trying to practice and left the province.
We also learned that none of the six current obstetric grads from Dal were planning to practice in the province. In April CBC reported that nine of the province’s 40 OBGYN’s were thinking of leaving the province.
The simple math is that in six years 50 family practitioners and specialists, plus over 15 medical researchers found Nova Scotia’s working conditions so bad that they quit the province. That is not a complete summary of all departures. And it doesn’t touch on retirements.
In any other business, industry or workplace the loss of that many highly educated professionals would fall on executive shoulders. But in Nova Scotia health care executives are spared responsibility for their actions and inaction.
We may have merged the system, but have we stocked it with old-style thinkers and limited any chance of effective change?