Recruiting doctors to the Island will soon be easier, says Health P.E.I.

Removing both a physician resource committee and the complements for doctors across the Island will help the province recruit more doctors, says Health P.E.I. CEO Michael Gardam.  (Melissa Oakley/CBC - image credit)
Removing both a physician resource committee and the complements for doctors across the Island will help the province recruit more doctors, says Health P.E.I. CEO Michael Gardam. (Melissa Oakley/CBC - image credit)

It will soon be easier to get doctors to come work in P.E.I. thanks to the removal of two layers of provincial bureaucracy, according to the CEO of Health P.E.I.

"There's a lot of reasons why people would like to move to P.E.I., but you know, historically our system has been this kind of mess of bureaucracy," Dr. Michael Gardam told Mitch Cormier on Island Morning.

The provincial government is getting rid of the physician resource planning committee, which currently has to meet to approve each new doctor hired on the Island.

Gardam said the planning committee wasn't appropriately resourced, so the delays became a roadblock.

"What ended up happening is that these doctor hires get delayed by months and months, and they just go elsewhere," he said.

Change to physician complement

The other change is that there will no longer be a complement of doctors assigned to each region of the Island, meaning doctors could live in one area and work in a different region of the province.

Brittany Spencer/CBC
Brittany Spencer/CBC

Removing physician complements will also help recruitment, said Gardam.

"Imagine if we're allowed seven doctors in the Montague area and a husband-wife team shows up. They're both family doctors, but one of them is going to take us over complement. It gets hard to recruit them there, which is crazy," he said.

"By getting rid of both of those things, essentially I can hire as many doctors as we need, in theory. Now the hard part is going to be finding the doctors."

Gardam said he hopes these changes will help the health care system from suffering when one doctor in an area leaves or goes on holiday.

"We need to have a little bit of resiliency so that if a doctor gets sick or leaves, the whole system doesn't come crashing down," he said.

Feeling more optimistic

After one year as the CEO of Health P.E.I., Gardam said he's feeling more optimistic now than he has before.

He mentioned other recent health care changes in the province, such as paying pharmacists to assess and prescribe for minor ailments, and new referral clinics for Islanders without a family doctor who are using the virtual Maple telehealth service.

"I'm hopeful that by next summer it'll feel a bit different here," said Gardam.

"But really when we talk about change, it's sort of three to five years and people often get frustrated in the first year. God knows I've been frustrated in the first year."