A new report says Manitoba is already short of practicing physicians, and the problem could get worse in the coming years.
The report from Doctors Manitoba, released Wednesday, says that the province has the lowest number of family physicians per capita in Canada, with 108 per 100,000 residents. The province also has the third lowest number of specialists per capita, also at 108 per 100,000 residents.
“This is very concerning,” said Keir Johnson, spokesperson for Doctors Manitoba. “And it’s something Manitobans probably feel every day, whether you’re looking for a family doctor or can’t get in to see one when you need it, whether you’re waiting an unreasonably long time in an emergency room, or can’t find an open ER in rural Manitoba, when you’re stuck in the surgery and testing backlog from the pandemic. These are really difficult issues and more physicians are one of many answers needed to solve them.”
Johnson said the report also shows the doctor shortage in Manitoba could get worse.
“When we surveyed our members earlier this year, what we found is that 43 per cent of physicians are planning on retiring, leaving Manitoba, or reducing their clinical hours over the next three years,” he said. “And that’s a big concern, when you consider that Manitoba already has one of the biggest shortages in the country.”
Johnson added while Manitoba is doing fairly well at recruiting physicians, retaining them is another story.
“It’s system issues, rather than personal ones, for wanting to leave the profession, and those are entirely preventable,” he said.
Doctors Manitoba recently held a summit in Portage la Prairie, which focused on recruiting and retaining doctors in rural Manitoba. Johnson said a report will be coming out later this week with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce with more recommendations on keeping physicians in Manitoba.
The report was compiled with information from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, the Canadian Medical Association, and the Doctors Manitoba annual physician survey.
A Government of Manitoba spokesperson said in a statement that the province meets with frontline staff on a regular basis, and says the Doctors Manitoba report is important to help define the situation and come up with solutions.
“Our government is working with a health human resource taskforce, as well as a Shared Health recruitment group, and we will be rolling out a comprehensive action plan in the next few weeks to address recruitment, training and retention,” the spokesperson said.
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