MLA says loss highlights province’s inaction on doctor shortage
INVERNESS, N.S. — The loss of a rural surgeon in Inverness and Antigonish counties highlights the province’s lack of response to an ongoing doctor shortage says a Cape Breton MLA.
Several weeks ago, Dr. Jeannie MacGillivray notified her patients that she would be unable to perform scheduled surgeries.
MacGillivray blamed her resignation on the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s refusal to provide a work/life balance, which she says would give more time to each patient at no extra cost to government.
“Twelve years ago, I chose to move back to my hometown to raise my family precisely for these ‘intangibles’ of being surrounded by family and the rich benefits of living in this community and province,” said MacGillivray in a press release.
“There are other areas of the country where surgeons can earn higher pay but I wanted to live here.”
Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster said with her resignation, MacGillivray faced the sudden withdrawal of her privileges to do surgeries at the Inverness hospital.
Patients who were nearing their scheduled surgery dates were cancelled and MacGillivray was not allowed to refer patients to other surgeons.
“Inverness has little to no public transportation; some residents do not have the ability to travel hundreds of kilometres for medical consultations or to have a simple procedure performed." - Allison Mustard
MacMaster said this meant patients had to go back to their family doctors for a referral, ultimately sticking them at the back of the waitlist.
“The Nova Scotia Health Authority did not put the needs of patients first,” said MacMaster. “They did not allow her to close her practice in a way that would best look after her patients who were waiting for their surgeries.”
Inverness patient Alison Mustard said the loss of MacGillivray delivers a terrible blow.
“She was also willing to travel to Inverness, which is a wonderful service that I am certain saved lives,” said Mustard. “Inverness has little to no public transportation; some residents do not have the ability to travel hundreds of kilometres for medical consultations or to have a simple procedure performed."
MacGillivray had visited Health Minister Randy Delorey on Oct. 29 to explain why she needed flexibility to continue to serve patients in Delorey’s own backyard.
Despite presenting a solution that helped another physician who wanted to cover for her, MacGillivray said nothing was done to help her. Delorey’s constituency of Antigonish has lost 10 specialists this past year.
“This is a failure of health-care management,” said MacMaster. “This is why we are losing doctors and it is the public who suffers because of it. Why would the government allow their management to put the run on a surgeon whose work has been praised by her patients?”
MacMaster said residents are becoming tired of a faceless health authority making bad decisions that are impacting their quality of life.