Hundreds more doctors in Sask. than a decade ago

With demand for nurse practitioners rising, UPEI looks to keep up

The number of doctors working in Saskatchewan has increased by 750 in the past 10 years, according to the provincial government.

A statement from the province says the total number of physicians is up 44 per cent compared to 2007, including a 53 per cent increase in specialists.

The number of general practitioners also rose by 37 per cent.  

Attributed to recruitment, retention

The government attributed the increase to recruitment and retention initiatives, such as doubling post-graduate physician training seats at the University of Saskatchewan's College of Medicine to 120, and increasing undergraduate medical education seats from 60 to 100.

It said training for family medicine residents has also increased in communities outside Regina and Saskatoon.

More locally-trained physicians are also staying in the province, the government said, adding that the retention rate of family medicine graduates trained at the University of Saskatchewan has jumped from 58 to 93 per cent in the past four years.  

A total of more than 2,500 physicians are licensed to practise in Saskatchewan.

Fewer people seen by doctors, NDP says

But NDP health critic Danielle Chartier said it is not a time for congratulations because the number of overall physician services has dropped since 2007. 

She pointed to figures from the Ministry of Health annual medical services reports, which say the number of in-province physician services per 1,000 beneficiaries was 10,332 in the latest report for 2015-2016, compared to 10,930 in 2007-2008.

"The reality is we might have more doctors but fewer people in Saskatchewan are getting seen by those doctors," said Chartier.

She added that improvements to health care infrastructure and worker morale are still needed to help recruit and retain more staff. 

"When it comes to recruitment and retention of high-quality health-care professionals, including physicians, they want to work in the best possible environment," said Chartier.