136,000 people in N.L. don't have a family doctor, according to the NLMA

According to new statistics released by the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, one in four people in the province don't have a family doctor. (all_about_people/Shutterstock - image credit)
According to new statistics released by the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, one in four people in the province don't have a family doctor. (all_about_people/Shutterstock - image credit)
all_about_people/Shutterstock
all_about_people/Shutterstock

New statistics from the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association paint a worsening picture of the province's doctor shortage, with 26 per cent of residents without a family physician.

The number, based on a Narrative Research poll from last summer, represents more than 136,000 people living in Newfoundland and Labrador, based on population data from that time.

"Family medicine in Newfoundland and Labrador is facing a crisis due to physician shortages, closures of rural emergency departments, and a workforce struggling with increasing demands and mounting overhead pressures," said NLMA President Dr. Kris Luscombe in a letter to members.

That number is up two per cent — and over 10,000 people — from the most recent poll released last spring.

In recent months, the province's regional health authorities struggle to maintain some services due to staffing shortages.

The NLMA recently signed a "shared agenda" with the provincial government, which Luscombe said will focus on high-level priority items to improve family medicine in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The shared agenda includes establishing a physician locum recruitment program, encouraging more physicians to come to the province for temporary rotations to fill gaps in emergency departments, developing a human resources plan and more.

Luscombe said the relationship between the NLMA and the Department of Health has "significantly" improved since Tom Osborne was appointed health minister last year, replacing John Haggie.

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