Losing N.L. doctors will harm patients: MD
14 doctors in the province resigned on Friday
Last Updated: Monday, November 8, 2010 | 11:25 AM ET Comments66Recommend33
Physicians Bridget Fernandez, Sandra Luscombe and Julia Trahey spoke with reporters Friday about their decision to resign. (CBC) A family physician says resignations by 14 specialists on Friday will harm patient care in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The doctors resigned Friday to protest against the provincial government’s contract offer, and most said they plan to leave in February.
Physicians say they are angry because they haven’t received equal pay for equal work since the government increased the pay of some specialists, including oncologists and pathologists, in 2008.
A family doctor in the Trinity Bay area said recruiting new physicians to the province, which is already a challenge, will now become harder.
Dr. Paul Bonisteel is concerned about the affect the departure of specialists will have on patient care in N.L. (CBC) “Increasingly we are finding it difficult to recruit in key areas,” said Dr. Paul Bonisteel, who practises in New Harbour. “And the more people that leave, the more difficult it becomes to recruit.
“When this happens it reverberates across the country. We’ve got people finishing residency programs in places across the country who are actively being dissuaded from coming to Newfoundland because they have been told that it would, quote, ruin their career.”
He also said that as specialists leave, general practitioners have more trouble getting care for their patients.
“What happens is a lot of that work ends up falling back on the family doctor,” Bonisteel said. “Take, for example, urology and neurology. I mean you just can’t get a consultation with these folks … maybe you could get seen in two years.”
The resigning doctors said they are serious about leaving Newfoundland and Labrador.
“We are resigning to resign and leave,” said Dr. Sandra Luscombe, a developmental pediatrician, said at a news conference called by physicians in St. John’s on Friday. “We have no illusions that this will change things for us.”
Health Minister Jerome Kennedy said Friday the resignations have been accepted and the province’s contract offer stands. He said the province has offered the doctors what amounts to a 31 per cent increase over four years.
“A 31 per cent increase in this economic time, in the midst of what’s going on the world today, in the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe, is absolutely staggering.”
The resigning doctors were upset the government refused to offer them the same pay increase it gave to oncologists and pathologists in the wake of the breast cancer testing scandal.
In the spring of 2008, Premier Danny Williams offered some specialists, including oncologists and pathologists, a pay raise after an inquiry into the scandal concluded some specialists might leave the province.
Later that fall, a group of gynecological oncologists were offered a similar package after they tendered their resignations.
The last four-year contract between physicians and the province expired more than a year ago. Doctors and the provincial government have been trying to negotiate a new contract for almost two years.