A shortage of doctors means the walk-in clinic in the eastern P.E.I. community of Souris is being shut down until further notice.


The clinic in Souris will be closed to walk-in patients after Thursday. (CBC)

The Eastern Kings Health Centre clinic will have its last day Thursday and Health PEI officials don't know when they will be able to find another doctor to re-open it.

"Up until this week we had some locum coverage on and off for Dr. Morgan's practice, he left in August," Marilyn Barrett, director of primary care networks with Health PEI, told CBC News Wednesday.

"That coverage has run out and right now we are unable to secure any locum or permanent position coverage so we're having to suspend the walk-in clinics."

David Morgan quit over a contract dispute with Health PEI.

The province told the 24 doctors in June that they would either have to start working on a fee-for-service basis or take a salaried position. The province later rescinded that request, but Morgan didn't change his mind and left for B.C.

Barrett said Souris currently has two full-time physicians and a part-time nurse practitioner, and that isn't enough to keep the clinic operating.

Health PEI had expected two other doctors to arrive to fill in.  However those doctors changed their minds and officials with Health PEI say they don't know the reason for the decision not to come.

One of the two current physicians is planning to leave Souris in January.

People in Souris are advised to make appointments to see a physician, or go to a walk-in clinic or ER in Montague or Charlottetown.

"It's difficult, the folks in Souris, this has been an on-again off-again situation for them. But we want them to know that this is a priority situation for Health PEI and we're working diligently to fix this."

The clinic had been open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday to Sunday.

Souris lost its emergency department in 2006. In the 2007 election campaign, the Liberals said if they were elected they would work to get enough doctors in Souris to re-open the emergency, but they haven't done that.

Barrett said the clinic will reopen as soon as they can find doctors willing to work in Souris.