Nova Scotia

St. Martha's Regional Hospital hit with obstetrician shortage

A doctor is speaking out about the fact a shortage of obstetricians means no babies will be delivered next week at St. Martha's Regional Hospital in Antigonish.

This will be the second time this month no babies will be delivered at the hospital

With no delivery service taking place at St. Martha's Regional Hospital, it will mean expecting mothers from southern Cape Breton will have to travel an additional 40 minutes to the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow. (Regis Duvignau/Reuters)
A doctor is speaking out about the fact a shortage of obstetricians means no babies will be delivered next week at St. Martha's Regional Hospital in Antigonish.

"What happens is they just don't have coverage to provide call every night, so they have a three-day gap where they have no obstetrician," said Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie, a doctor who works in Amherst.

Robyn MacQuarrie, an obstetrician in Amherst, said she and other ob-gyn's warned the province that without changes to the malpractice insurance reimbursement system, ob-gybn's would leave the province. (CBC)
She says a recent change to the way the province reimburses doctors for malpractice insurance is chasing talented doctors out of Nova Scotia because they can get better deals in every other province in Atlantic Canada.

"It's happening to Antigonish now. We warned the government this is going to happen and they didn't take us seriously," said MacQuarrie.

She and other ob-gyn's have been pushing the Nova Scotia government to improve the the reimbursement system. She says they have had meetings with the province, but there haven't been any developments from the province's side.

"We're saying this is real and it's going to happen, and they think we're trying to negotiate," said MacQuarrie.

This will be the second time this month where no babies will be delivered at St. Martha's Regional Hospital.

A longer drive

With no delivery service taking place, it will also mean that expecting mothers from southern Cape Breton will have to travel an additional 40 minutes to the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow.

Five recently graduated doctors in Nova Scotia are all leaving the province to work elsewhere.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority says a recently-hired obstetrician and midwife will help the situation once they begin working in the summer.

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