NDP calls for physician retention to be the priority

Specialist doctors quitting over government’s attempt to change a contract’s structure

The NDP is furious that Health Minister Dustin Duncan says he won’t do a thing about fleeing radiologists, prioritizing a plan to change the structure of their contract over physician retention and patient care. 

The radiologists are leaving due to the Sask. Party’s move to stop a Regina radiology group from renewing their contract as a group. The move has led to highly skilled radiology specialists leaving the province, including Regina’s only radiologists doing cardiac MRIs, and including six radiologists under the age of 40. 

With two more radiologists expected to retire, the number in Regina will be down to 15 from 25 by the end of the year.

“The fact that the health minister is being stubborn and refusing to focus on physician recruitment and retention is frustrating to us all,” said Health critic Danielle Chartier. “Patients should be the government’s priority. Wait times for x-rays and MRIs are only going to get longer with the number of radiologists slashed – and that doesn’t seem to be a priority for the Sask. Party at all.”

Despite calls from radiologists that it would inhibit recruitment and retention, the government refused to renew their decades-long contract, which ended in December. The remaining radiologists say they’re still trying to provide care for patients in the region.

“The Sask. Party has dealt with their budget crisis not by cutting the waste in health care – like millions of dollars in nonsense Lean programming, staff and permanent offices,” said Chartier. “Instead, they’re taking it out on patients and health care professionals, refusing to renew long-standing contracts at the same time as they’re cutting hundreds of front line staff and thousands of surgeries.

“The doctors we’ve already lost is a serious blow to wait times. The Sask. Party needs to realize that keeping doctors here is the priority for all of us – not a stubborn fight over the reorganization of a contract’s structure.”