Health summit tackles shortage of rural and northern doctors

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Doctors Manitoba president Dr. Candace Bradshaw admits she was more than a little worried about the outcome of last week’s healthcare summit.

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Bringing rural and northern physicians together with local business and political leaders could lend itself to what Bradshaw called “stinging conversations” or disagreements between participants over priorities.

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“I would say the flavor in the room was very positive and it was collaborative and it was good. I think it turned out better than we imagined,” Bradshaw said.

“There’s just a lot of potential for disagreement and we didn’t find that to be the flavor of the day at all.”

A special stakeholder summit was held Wednesday in Portage la Prairie, hosted by Doctors Manitoba and the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. The Summit focused on assessing the physician shortage in rural and northern Manitoba and potential solutions to attract and retain more physicians. More than 100 participants have registered to attend, including doctors and leaders from healthcare, business and local communities.

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“From Doctors Manitoba’s perspective, we hope that with the recommendations that we will compile and present to government on behalf of not only physicians, but also the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and many municipalities that have contributed, we hope to see as many of them as possible put into action,” Bradshaw said. “This is going to require some collaboration and funding from government and ongoing discussions between health care (stakeholders) and the business community.

“Investment in the health system is a top priority for our members, and research shows that the economic potential of communities is supported by strong services,” said Chuck Davidson, President and CEO of the Chambers of Commerce. of Manitoba in a news release. “I was encouraged by today’s discussion at the Summit, which included physicians, community leaders and business leaders who care deeply that we all have access to effective, quality care everywhere. Province. Manitoba’s ability to recruit and retain more physicians is critical to our future growth.

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President of Doctors Manitoba, Dr. Candace Bradshaw.
President of Doctors Manitoba, Dr. Candace Bradshaw. Picture by handout /Winnipeg Sun

Manitoba has the fewest number of family physicians per capita in Canada and the third lowest for specialist physicians according to the most recent data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Additionally, 40% of physicians plan to retire, reduce clinical hours or move to another province within the next three years, according to a recent survey by Doctors Manitoba. Nearly half of physicians show signs of burnout, which research shows is a leading cause of physician retention issues.

To be a doctor in a rural area, you have to prepare for the fact that you are “the end of the line” when it comes to patient care, especially in the emergency room, and that you have to spend hours on the phone trying to getting the care patients need. , Bradshaw said.

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“These things have become extremely time-consuming, stressful and difficult,” Bradshaw said.

One possible solution would be a one-stop telephone service similar to what is offered in other provinces where a trier can relieve rural physicians from having to make these arrangements.

“We have to start looking at that stuff here because it actually drives people to the point where they don’t want to work in rural areas anymore,” Bradshaw said.

Further consultations are planned over the coming weeks to validate the findings with Summit participants, as well as broader medical and economic development professionals. The goal is to refine promising practices into a final report with recommendations for recruiting and retaining more physicians. The report should be available at the end of October. It will be shared with the provincial government for review and made available to the public for review.

Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon attended Wednesday’s summit and pledged to look forward to the report being laid on her desk and hopefully developing action plans. “I’ll hold her back,” Bradshaw said.

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Twitter: @SunGlenDawkins

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