Nova Scotia

New head of doctors group says rebuilding trust key to solving health 'crisis'

The new president of Doctors Nova Scotia says the only way to tackle what he calls a provincial health-care crisis is to rebuild trust between physicians, the health authority and the provincial government.

'The time is ticking we’ve got to fix this, we’ve got to get together ASAP,' says Dr. Manoj Vohra

Vohra says medical professionals need a better way to communicate with decision makers about the healthcare system. (CBC)

The new president of Doctors Nova Scotia says the only way to tackle what he calls a crisis in the provincial health-care system is to rebuild trust between physicians, the health authority and the provincial government.

"The time is ticking we've got to fix this," said Dr. Manoj Vohra, a family physician. "We've got to get together ASAP and start building that trust up that we're in it together." 

Vohra became president of Doctors Nova Scotia on June 3. The medical association represents physicians in the province; it handles physicans' wage negotiations with government and works to influence and support health-care policies.

He's excited about a change in tone from the Liberals during the election, and said it appears the government is prepared to make some changes to how it communicates and consults with doctors.   

"The electorate has voted and has really made some really good points about health care and where they need to see this go and I think we've got to roll up our sleeves and get to the table," he said.

Vohra says allowing doctors to move around and decide exactly where they want to practice would make the province more attractive to physicians. (Goodluz/Shutterstock)

Vohra believes there needs to be a better way to have health-care workers more involved in the government's decision-making process.

"We bring the lens of front-line interactions. We bring the sense of what needs to be repaired, we can also bring the sense of what needs to be let go of. Often there is a disconnect when we make decisions," he said. 

Health-care system needs help

Vohra said health-care problems in the province have "multiple facets" — but at its root Nova Scotia needs more physicians. He said that's one of the only ways to fill in the gaps in the system. 

To do that the province needs to have a more welcoming environment for physicians, said Vohra. Allowing physicians to travel around the province and choose where they want to work could help.   

"It's really about allowing people to see what communities work for themselves, how does a community react, what type of practices they would like to go in."     

While on the campaign trail, Stephen McNeil said his government would make sure doctors were a big part of the decision-making process in health care. (CBC)

He said Health Minister Leo Glavine and Premier Stephen MacNeil seemed to get behind that idea when they spoke at the Doctors Nova Scotia's annual general meeting. 

Setting mentorship programs for doctors taking over an existing practice could also help attract physicians, said Vohra. The program would allow retiring doctors to help the incoming doctor get used to a practice before taking it over full time. 

He also said getting more medical residents to try working in rural areas could help draw them to those places when they finish their training, which could help increase the number of physicians in towns and villages. 

With files from Information Morning

now