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LETTER: Contract dispute is indeed with doctors

We are concerned about comments made by Premier Stephen McNeil that government's contract disputes are with Doctors Nova Scotia, not doctors. In fact, these disputes are with doctors, because doctors ARE Doctors Nova Scotia.

We are the department heads of the 12 clinical/academic funding plan departments comprising approximately 750 physicians who provide primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary care in Nova Scotia. We also provide specialty services such as cancer care, transplant services, paediatric and cardiovascular interventions to residents from across the Atlantic Provinces.

We are members of Doctors Nova Scotia, representing 4,000 physicians across Nova Scotia – including students, residents, practising and retired physicians. Doctors Nova Scotia is governed by physicians from across the province who set the strategic direction for the association. To suggest that government is in a dispute with Doctors Nova Scotia and not physicians, is nonsensical. Physicians in this province ARE Doctors Nova Scotia and Doctors Nova Scotia IS physicians.

Contract issues between government and Doctors Nova Scotia have been long standing, and our association has made multiple attempts to resolve them. Now 15 months later, Doctors Nova Scotia is asking the courts to resolve these issues so that physicians can focus on the things that matter most – our patients and our health care system.

We believe our health care system is facing issues far too great for any one entity to resolve. That’s why it’s essential that all partners work together to develop solutions, both short and long term, to address the issues facing our patients – particularly access to primary care and family doctors.

We all know a large number of Nova Scotians are without a family doctor, and as specialists we are witnessing the impact of this. We are discharging patients from hospital without a family physician to oversee their follow-up care. We are monitoring and renewing prescriptions that should be overseen by a family physician familiar with the patient’s history. Primary care and access to family doctors has to be our priority. Let’s all channel our energies into creating solutions that will work for Nova Scotians.

Our patients, the people of Nova Scotia, deserve better treatment, and the time to act is now.

Dr. Romesh Shukla

Chair of the Committee of Clinical/Academic Funding Plans Department Heads

Dr. Tetteh Ago

Department of Radiation Oncology

Dr. James Bentley

Division of Gynecologic/Oncology

Dr. David Gass and Dr. Maria Alexiadis

Department of Family Medicine

Dr. Naeem Khan

Department of Diagnostic Imaging IWK

Dr. David Kirkpatrick

Department of Surgery

Dr. Andrew Lynk

Department of Paediatrics

Dr. Kirk Magee

Department of Emergency Medicine

Dr. Irene Sadek

Department of Pathology

Dr. Christine Short

Department of Medicine

Dr. Romesh Shukla

Department of Anesthesia

Dr. Michael Teehan

Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Tobias Witter

Department of Critical Care

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