Nova Scotia to face surgical delays as replacements sought for Saudi trainees

Nova Scotia to face surgical delays as replacements sought for Saudi trainees

HALIFAX — A health official says the pending departure of 59 Saudi Arabian medical residents from Nova Scotia will cause surgical delays over the coming months.

Dr. Mark Taylor, executive medical director for the central zone of the Nova Scotia Health Authority, says "minor delays" of up to a few weeks will likely occur for scheduled surgeries as officials look to fill gaps created by the departures.

About 1,000 Saudi residents and fellows in Canada were called back to the kingdom when it abruptly suspended diplomatic relations over a government tweet that criticized the Saudis for the arrest of female social activists.

Taylor says the health authority, Dalhousie University and the provincial Health Department are in the process of determining specific needs in surgical areas facing acute problems including orthopedic, cardiac and neurosurgeries.

He says it's possible people can be hired to work in those areas, although new trainees won't be introduced to the system until a new cohort arrives for the new academic year which begins July 1.

Taylor says in the meantime, much of the slack will have to be taken up by local attending surgeons and other specialists.

Medical residents have been told to return by Aug. 31, forcing hospitals to come up with contingency plans to fill the gaps.

The Canadian Press