Norah Duggan, president-elect of the Newfoundland and Labrador chapter of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, speaks to the media about changes in medical diagnostic services in the Flower's Cove and Lewisporte areas. Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
The provincial government should have consulted doctors and health professionals before deciding to cut services in Flower's Cove and Lewisporte, says the president-elect of the local chapter of the College of Family Physicians, and the organization is calling on Health Minister Paul Oram to reconsider.
"I want to express our concern with the recent announcement by Minister of Health Paul Oram to close and relocate laboratory and X-ray facilities from the Lewisporte and Flower's Cove facilities," Dr. Norah Duggan said during a news conference Thursday.
The announcements, which came on Aug. 31, have caused an uproar among doctors, patients and politicians since then.
Duggan said the cuts will affect the ability of doctors at the clinics to treat patients.
"This reduction in services will impact access to care for patients. Family doctors in rural communities need these services to provide care to patients," she said.
"I have extensive experience as a rural physician in the first part of my practice. ... I can tell you from my personal experience that making decisions in rural communities about patient care is often dependent on making tests available."
As well, she said, sending ambulances along rural roads can be dangerous, and without proper testing available, more could unnecessarily make the trip.
"To maintain access to care, we need to develop a collaborative approach to providing required services that support patients and family doctors," she said.
Duggan also decried the province's decision-making process, which she said did not include any consultation with "family doctors, other health professionals and patients who are directly impacted."
She said the college would welcome the opportunity to meet with the government to discuss "such important issues."
"We invite minister Oram to work with us," she said, adding that with consultation, better, more innovative ways to manage health care could be found.
She ended by urging the province to reconsider its decision.
Oram was not available for interviews.