Future family doctors felt insulted after recruitment session with Minister of Health: open letter


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Health Minister John Haggie said it was “unfortunate” that participants in a recruiting session felt frustrated and dissatisfied. (Mark Quinn / CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador College of Family Physicians says potential family physicians felt frustrated and disrespectful after attending a virtual retention and recruiting session by the province’s Department of Health.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Andrew Furey, the group said ministry officials – including Health Minister John Haggie – gave a 90-minute presentation that lacked specific information and left potential recruits feeling ” insulted ”for asking questions.

In addition, according to the association, residents said they appeared to have been “reprimanded” by the Minister of Health during his remarks.

“It would be an understatement to describe this recruiting session as an absolute disaster,” the letter read.

The session, which took place on Nov. 24, involved around 70 prospective family doctors, and the NLCFP says it has received numerous complaints from potential recruits about their dissatisfaction with the department’s recruiting team.

In a statement in response to the letter, Haggie said he attended the first five minutes of the session and then had to leave.

“It is unfortunate that those present felt frustrated and dissatisfied,” he said.

Haggie said he offered to discuss the questions and concerns with residents. The group asked to meet with Furey, and Haggie said the PM was planning to do so.

Relationship between potential doctors and the injured province: NLCFP

The gist of the letter is based on the shortage of family physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador.

According to the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, which is negotiating a contract with the government, nearly 100,000 residents of the province do not have a family doctor.

The letter says “significant damage” was caused to the relationship between family physicians and the provincial government as a result of the letter. The NLCFP calls for measures to improve the recruitment of doctors.

The group says residents also felt insulted by the unsatisfactory responses to questions they posed to the Newfoundland and Labrador recruiting team. According to the letter, the resident group had a more positive experience in subsequent sessions with recruiters from two other provinces and territories.

Conservative Party health critic Paul Dinn says the provincial government needs to listen to potential recruits to find out what they need to stay in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Mark Quinn / CBC)

In an interview on Friday, PC health spokesperson Paul Dinn criticized Haggie’s short appearance and the province’s doctor-recruiting strategy.

“For me, other provinces are more interested in our graduates than our own province,” said Dinn. “That seems to be the message, and it shouldn’t be the message.”

More recruiting initiatives to come, according to Haggie

Although other Atlantic provinces have also had difficulty recruiting physicians, recent strategies have been well received by physicians in these provinces.

In September, Doctors Nova Scotia praised the reduction in red tape at that province’s recruiting office, and Prince Edward Island hired a physician recruiter this year, a position that previously existed at the faculty of MUN medicine but which has been vacant for several years.

In October, Haggie announced several measures he said were aimed at addressing the shortage of family doctors.

These measures include four new collaborative care clinics, a health professional recruitment and retention office and a new health care human resources plan.

The province is also implementing a three-year pilot program that will guarantee an income equivalent to that of a salaried family doctor for new doctors opening a family medicine clinic or joining an existing one for two years.

Haggie said the government will pay a family doctor $ 100,000 to establish a patient list, provide after-hours services and stay in the province.

In his prepared remarks during the Nov. 23 session, provided to CBC News by the Department of Health, Haggie mentioned all of these initiatives, but did not provide a specific timeline. A spokesperson for the Department of Health said Haggie did not read the remarks verbatim.

Dinn called on Haggie to try harder to engage with potential recruits.

“If you come in, say hello and leave, how will you know people are offering solutions? You have to listen. You can’t come in and talk to people,” he said.

Read more about CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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