Oral surgery shortage already dire before resignations

A visiting specialist says Newfoundland and Labrador was already a few oral surgeons short before two of them handed in their notices of resignation.

Sending patients to Nova Scotia not a feasible solution, consulting surgeon says

A Nova Scotian specialist who does contract work in St. John's says Newfoundland and Labrador was already several oral surgeons short before two of them recently handed in their notices of resignation.

Dr. Louis Bourget, who operates clinics in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, has been making monthly trips to St. John's for the last six years, to handle cases as a consultant on oral surgery.

Dr. Louis Bourget, seen speaking with CBC News during an interview by Skype, says Newfoundland and Labrador needs at least four or five oral surgeons. (CBC )

Last week, CBC News revealed that Newfoundland's only two full-time oral surgeons have put in their notices to withdraw from MCP, the province's medicare program.

Bourget says that even with them in place, the province did not have enough capacity for oral surgery.

"That means you need anywhere between four and five oral surgeons to be able to get just the minimum workload of jaw surgery,

"That's just to break even [on] your waitlist, so that way every year, you have a minimum waitlist."

Dr. Amin Alibhai and Dr. Shannon Davis have each given notice that they are resigning. Health officials have said that patients with urgent cases will be treated in Nova Scotia.

But Bourget said that sending patients out of province is not a realistic solution.

"Now you've got a province that has patients that have to be done, sending patients to another province where they have a waitlist to start off with, which just becomes a bigger problem," he said.

Bourget said delaying surgery can have serious consequences.

"Often the longer you wait, the more complications you get," he said. "You get root resorptions, you get patients that are fed up, you get dental cavities, you get periodontal disease, you compound the problem of these patients that have been in braces for years by just waiting more and more and more."

Bourget said that Eastern Health, the provincial government and the oral surgeons need to sit down and work out a solution.