Nova Scotia

Sydney man upset after losing family doctor for 3rd time

A patient in Sydney, N.S., says his concerns are growing after his family doctor announced she's closing her practice this summer and the only walk-in clinic announced it may close at the end of the month.

Andy Parnaby says health-care situation in Cape Breton is 'utterly hopeless'

As of April 1, almost 65,000 Nova Scotians were on a list awaiting placement with a family doctor. (funnyangel/Shutterstock)

A Cape Breton man is worried about the state of health care on the island after he lost his family doctor for the third time.

"You know the feeling, and I think it's a feeling that most Cape Bretoners identify with, is just a feeling of being utterly hopeless," said Andy Parnaby, whose family doctor is giving up her Sydney practice.

In a letter to patients, Dr. Meaghan Keating said she is busy with administrative work at the regional hospital and her time is stretched too thin, so she is closing her practice in July.

Keating did not respond to a request for comment.

Parnaby said with news that the main walk-in clinic in Sydney might close at the end of this month, he is frustrated.

Andy Parnaby and his family are looking for a new doctor after theirs announced plans to give up her family practice this July. (Submitted by Andy Parnaby)

He said he does not begrudge doctors making career choices, but this is the third family doctor he's lost and he believes the system is not getting any better.

"I don't know what the answer is and I wish I did, but it's a wicked problem, there's no doubt about that," he said. "I'm always a bit stunned that it's still here after over 20 years of being in Atlantic Canada."

In a letter to patients, family physician Dr. Meaghan Keating says she has been busy with administrative work at the regional hospital and has no time left for her practice. (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

Parnaby said his only choices are to call 811 and go on the waiting list for a new doctor, or ask family and friends if they know of any doctors taking on new patients.

He will do both, he said.

Last month, provincial statistics showed an increase of nearly 36 per cent in the number of patients looking for a family doctor in the eastern health zone, which includes Cape Breton.

Parnaby said his health-care needs are "pretty basic," but it's likely much worse for others who have complicated medical problems.

Only solution is more recruiting, says Doctors NS

Doctors Nova Scotia president Robyn MacQuarrie said she is concerned about the lack of doctors in Cape Breton.

"I feel for those that are without a primary-care provider and I can imagine what a scary place that would be," she said.

But MacQuarrie said the health-care system needs doctors like Keating to take administrative roles and the only real solution is to recruit more doctors.

She said the possible loss of the walk-in clinic is also a problem, but the province will have to be creative about finding ways to help keep it open, because there are private practices all over the province and Doctors Nova Scotia would not advocate for a subsidy for one.



Tom Ayers


Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 16 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at