Doctors seek 'relationship reset' with health minister

The New Brunswick Medical Society hopes a meeting with Health Minister Ted Flemming on Saturday will help "reset" their relationship.

The group that represents the province's 2,000 doctors requested the meeting last Friday, after Flemming made comments in the media about doctors overbilling medicare and the possible closure of some emergency services.

The society's chief executive officer, Anthony Knight, hopes the meeting will change the current confrontational attitude that seems to have developed between the two sides.

"I think what doctors are looking for is maybe a reset on the relationship," said Knight.

"You know government officials, health administrators, physicians work very closely with one another on a daily basis and we need a positive, productive relationship," he said.

Knight says Flemming's promise last month to "ferret out" any doctors who overbilled set the wrong tone.

Doctors felt Flemming was attacking the character of physicians and their professional responsibilities and work ethic.

"Unfortunately, this minister has taken a more aggressive tone and we are hoping that we can seek some clarification on what exactly his intentions were with his approach to doctors," he said.

Such confrontations between New Brunswick's doctors and the provincial government are not new.

In 2001, doctors closed their offices for three days in a dispute over wages.

In 2007, 14 emergency room doctors in Saint John threatened to quit if working conditions didn't improve.

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