The doctors strike in Newfoundland and Labrador is over, but patients in need of medical care are still waiting.

The 17-day strike has created a backlog of 30,000 missed medical appointments and procedures. It could take a year to catch up.

"There's clearly major scheduling issues," a hospital official said. "It's going to take us a number of months to recapture our capacity."

The province's 930 physicians headed back to work Friday after the provincial government and the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association agreed to take part in binding arbitration.

The province's health boards are urging people not to call their doctor's office until the end of next week at the earliest.

But phone lines at hospitals and doctors' offices were ringing non-stop Friday.

Some patients on the waiting list include those needing cardiac surgery and some recently-diagnosed cancer patients seeking initial treatment.

In the St. John's area alone, cardiac surgeons usually handle about 16 operations a week. Now they're almost three weeks behind.

During the strike, the amount of activity in emergency wards in St. John's shot up by 56 per cent. Some patients waited up to 20 hours to see a doctor.

The work action was halted after Premier Roger Grimes agreed to put a minimum of $50 million in salary additions on the table.

Physicians in the province are the poorest paid in the country.