$6M in payments delayed to hundreds of Nova Scotia doctors

Hundreds of Nova Scotia family doctors have been waiting months to be paid for house calls, nursing home visits and other services performed under province's Comprehensive Care Incentive Program.

"Payments are delayed," said Alana Patterson, director of physician compensation for Doctors Nova Scotia, which represents the profession.

It's not chump change.

Average payment $10K

The delayed payments range from $1,100 up to $35,000 per doctor, with the average payment at $10,000 per year, according to Doctors Nova Scotia.

"In fact the payments that are owed right now are for services that were provided as much as close to two years ago," said Patterson.

The Comprehensive Care Incentive Program also covers in-hospital patient visits, newborn and obstetrical care.

About 600 doctors are part of the program.

Payments are usually made in December or January, but this year doctors are still waiting. A financial year-end payment deadline will be missed.

"We're concerned at a basic level that family practitioners, like any other businessperson, are reliant on their incomes, to cover costs of their home lives, their personal lives, but also their professional lives and their practices," she said.

Money coming soon, province says

The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness does not dispute the delay, but puts the situation down to paperwork associated with implementing a new doctors' pay contract, known as a master agreement.

That agreement moves comprehensive care from an incentive program to a fee-for-service.

"We are just trying to finalize a whole lot of implementation related to that and CCIP was one of those things," said Angela Purcell, director of master agreement and fee-for-service at Health and Wellness.

She said doctors will get their money in two weeks.

"We are in the process of processing the payment file."