Province tries to allay concerns of doctors' group

Province tries to allay concerns of doctors' group

Nova Scotia's top health official, Denise Perret, told a legislature committee Wednesday she was open to the suggestions being offered by Doctors Nova Scotia in two reports the group just released.

In all, the doctors' group made 11 recommendations aimed at fixing "the province's ailing health-care system."

They included:

- Every Nova Scotian should be able to access a primary health-care team

- Leaving it to doctors to decide how they want to practise — alone or as part of a team

- Exploring new ways of paying doctors, beyond fee for service or a salary

- The ability to bill for longer patient visits or if advice is provided electronically

- A fully integrated e-health system

Doctors 'want to have a voice'

Doctor Michelle Dow, President of Doctors Nova Scotia, told CBC's Information Morning doctors "want to have a voice in helping to change health care and shape the way of health care for the future."

Although neither Dow nor the reports expressed specific concerns about doctors being forced to change their practices or the way they choose to carry on their businesses, it's clear from the recommendations that some doctors are worried about being forced into practising differently.

"There has to be flexibility to be able to choose the way you're going to practise," Dow told Information Morning.

The doctors' group expressed more direct concern over the future of walk-in clinics. Doctors Nova Scotia said the clinics should continue to exist, given the thousands of Nova Scotia families who are without a doctor.

"If we don't have places like walk-in clinics, those patients, the only place that they can go is the emergency rooms, and that's probably not the best place for patients to be seen," said Dow.

Deputy minister responds

Speaking to reporters after testifying before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, the deputy minister tried to sound reassuring.

"I don't think it's correct to say everyone's being forced into a collaborative practice," said Perret. "What we're saying is that it's important to have collaborative practices."

Walk-in clinics, she said, would also continue.

Perret was supportive of finding different ways to pay doctors for their work.

"Absolutely", she said. "I think we have to talk about new compensation models. I think we want to have compensation systems that are modern."