Doctor recruitment agency to merge with Sask. health authority

The Saskatchewan Health Authority will be absorbing the Physician Recruitment Agency of Saskatchewan.

Sask. minister responsible for rural and remote health says change will make recruiting more efficent

Minister of Rural and Remote Health Greg Ottenbreit said transitioning the Physician Recruitment Agency of Saskatchewan into the Saskatchewan Health Authority will lead to a more efficient and cohesive service. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is hoping for continued improvement in physician recruitment by absorbing the Physician Recruitment Agency of Saskatchewan (PRAS).

"Now with one health authority, they basically fulfil the needs and the requirements of that health authority when it comes to recruitment and retention of, specifically in this case, physicians," said Greg Ottenbreit, minister responsible for rural and remote health

"It'll just be a lot more efficient operation if they're integrated right into the health authority."

The government says Saskatchewan currently has about 900 more doctors than it did 10 years ago, with physician retention rates up nearly 20 per cent — in large part due to recruitment services such as Health Careers in Sask and Saskdocs websites. 

Saskdocs was created to help with physician recruitment and retention, especially in rural and remote areas, when Saskatchewan had 12 provincial health reasons. Those 12 regions merged into one last December. 

Ottenbreit says day-to-day operations for Saskdocs will stay the same, and current board members will have the option to stay on as advisors. 

"They've done a lot of great work over the years and I think it's indicative of the number of doctors we have here now."

Ottenbreit says the transition will help keep the recruitment agency and SHA on the same page, enabling them to address physician needs around the province. He says there's also a possibility of financial savings in the future. 

According to Ottenbreit, the response has been positive from the agency. 

"We're doing it based on the premise that it's going to just be a lot more efficient system and a cohesive system," he said. ​

Rural recruiting

The recruitment agency largely focuses on recruiting doctors for rural areas of the province, which is an ongoing concern.

"We do know that there still is a challenge," said Ottenbreit.

"It's a lot easier to attract physicians to urban settings than some of the rural." he said.

"We're going the right direction, but there's still more to do when it comes to those rural settings."

The transition is scheduled to happen July 23.

It comes after a review of the recruitment agency, recommended by the Advisory Panel on Health System Structure in 2016.

In an emailed statement, PRAS said they look forward to working with the SHA.

"The partnerships the Agency has built and maintained in the past will continue to play a vital role in meeting the recruitment and retention needs of Saskatchewan's health care system."


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