Access to primary care is a major concern for doctors and many Nova Scotians.
Nova Scotia doctors believe that everyone must have timely access to primary care in their communities. Whether patients live in a rural community, or in a downtown core, being able to receive care from a family physician is essential to a good quality of life.
Every Nova Scotian needs a family doctor. But we know that many Nova Scotians are without one.
A shortage of general practitioners, rural recruitment and retention challenges, and increased demands on the health-care system due to chronic disease and an aging population are among the reasons why many Nova Scotians are without a family doctor.
The province’s physician resource plan identified the need to recruit and retain more family doctors to the province, especially in rural areas. According to the plan, close to one‐third of the 1,983 full‐time equivalent physician workforce will retire or relocate in the next 10 years.
Eighty-six per cent (86%) of residents and students surveyed by Doctors Nova Scotia indicated working in a team environment, such as with other physicians, family practice nurses or nurse practitioner, is important to them.
88% of residents and students surveyed by Doctors Nova Scotia indicated access to an electronic health record is an important factor in practising medicine.
To address access to primary care challenges, doctors are calling on the candidates in this election to:
- Develop innovative recruitment strategies to attract doctors to under-serviced areas. Strategies could include – increasing efforts to educate medical students and residents in rural communities, competitively compensating doctors who teach outside of urban centres, establishing more collaborative practices and enhancing the province’s locum program.
- Make it easier for health-care providers to collaborate. Collaborative care can happen while practising in the same physical space or when working together through the use of technology, and networks. Investments need to be made to support all forms of collaboration among health‐care providers.
- Invest in creating a seamless electronic health record system that gives providers and patients secure access to the right health information. Increased investment in this area would support better collaboration among health‐care providers and provide opportunities for patients to interact with health‐care providers in non‐traditional ways such as email.
What can you do?
Talk to your candidates today about health-care issues such as improved access to primary care. Use and share the information you’ve learned here with candidates, family and friends.
Need more info? Check out our election site for our 4 positions, access to candidates and their response to our questions.