Health Authority rules pushing doctor away

Opinion

To the Editor:

I visited my doctor last week only to learn that he was leaving his practice (this is the second doctor I’ve had since my original doctor retired about five years ago). I know I’m lucky in that except for a few months when I waited for my doctor to arrive, I’ve always had one. What completely floored me was why he was leaving.

In a nutshell, he was/is fed-up with dueling with the NSHA over how he runs his practice. First, he is in a co-operative practice in the former Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital in Pictou. He has a receptionist that he pays for but who, in essence, answers to the local NSHA. Imagine having an employee that works directly for you yet over which you have little if any influence? If there are any issues to be dealt with, the NSHA will deal with it, no matter what changes or corrections you’d like to make.

That’s not earth shattering, right? How about wanting to set-up a walk-in clinic? What a fantastic idea! It could reduce the typical wait times in our local ER (typically six hours, if you’re lucky). The answer was a resounding ‘no.’ Why? There were already two running in the upper towns (New Glasgow, Trenton, Stellarton and Westville). So what, his would be running in the Pictou area and I’m sure would have been well-attended. Still a ‘no.’ I wonder if it had anything to do with the local person in authority who decided this? Was there a conflict of interest?

What if above mentioned walk-in was to be staffed by the doctor’s wife (as receptionist)? Nope, not allowed. What if my doctor wanted to set-up his own practice in his own space away from the current co-operative? Not allowed. Are you seeing why he’s leaving?

And then there’s that wonderful new tax plan from the federal government that will see him losing from $20,000 to $30,000 for increased income tax. Imagine losing that from your income or even a proportional amount, depending upon what you make? Most doctors have massive student loans that are not being reduced just because income tax went up.

Where does this end? It ends with me losing a very caring, professional doctor whom I’ve come to respect and appreciate how well he knows my medical needs. The NSHA is pushing hard for collaborative care centers. Wonderful. Does that format fit all situations? I don’t think so.

Why can’t a doctor set up a practice as he/she sees fit without the NSHA dictating what they can or cannot do? A dentist may set-up a practice as they see fit. Is it any wonder we can’t recruit doctors and now we can’t even keep them. After my doctor complained loudly, the NSHA said they would discuss his issues, but who knows if they’d allow any of his requests. He isn’t sticking around to find out. He is heading to Ontario or Alberta where a doctor may set up a practice as they wish. Imagine that? I have contacted my local MLA to pass this on to her; I’d encourage everyone to do the same if this story rings true for you.

John Jennings

Three Brooks