Two psychiatrists who had committed to filling vacancies in Cape Breton will not be relocating to the area after all.
The pair was among 13 new physician hires in the region — including family doctors and specialists — announced in August by the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
"We did learn recently that two psychiatrists who had originally planned to relocate here will not be coming," health authority spokesperson Greg Boone confirmed Tuesday.
One of the psychiatrists informed the health authority of the decision in August, and the other did so this month.
"Discussions between the health authority and health-care providers, including physician candidates, are private and confidential," said Boone. "However, in this case, we understand their decisions on relocation were personal."
The psychiatrists were recruited by a provincial recruitment team that includes co-ordinators on the ground in each of the health authority's four management zones, and that is supported by a group of physicians working in Cape Breton.
There are currently three vacancies for psychiatrists in Cape Breton, Boone said.
Hopes 'dashed again'
A recent report prepared by Doctors Nova Scotia following consultations with physicians across the province outlines a number of concerns voiced by psychiatrists currently working in Cape Breton.
It says the region can no longer effectively recruit new psychiatrists due to issues around workload, a lack of resources, the absence of local decision-making and remuneration.
"They just don't have enough psychiatrists there to be able to appropriately meet the needs of Cape Breton," said Tim Holland, president-elect of Doctors Nova Scotia.
Upon learning that the two new hires have backed out, Dr. Craig Stone, a staff anesthesiologist at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, said he was intensely disappointed.
"You know, we get our hopes built up, and then we get them dashed again," said Stone, who is also president of the Cape Breton Medical Staff Association.
"If something comes out of this, it would be that I wish that announcements like this would be made once the people are on the ground and working."
That is how the health authority will proceed going forward, said Boone, adding that recruitment for psychiatry and other positions is ongoing.