Questions for South West Health about recruitment
By Keith Maryanovich
THE DIGBY COURIER
The doctor shortage in Digby has motivated a joint meeting of the councils of the town and the municipality.
The two councils will meet Tuesday, Dec. 18 at the offices of the Municipality of the District of Digby in Seabrook to discuss a new doctor incentive package the health authority wants them to approve.
Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland says Shirley Watson-Poole, the recruiter with South West Health is asking both municipal units to consider offering a larger incentive package than the councils approved five years ago.
Warden Linda Gregory says the new package would amount to $60,000 per year from each of the town and the municipality in total incentives for new doctors.
Under the old plan, drafted five years ago, they paid $7,500 each per doctor the first year; then $10,000 each to that doctor in their second year; $12,500 the third year; and $20,000 in the fourth year.
Since 2007 only two doctors have taken the area up on the offer.
Dr. Ron Matsusaki received a full recruitment incentive package—and he’s still here.
Dr. Gerhard Beukes however worked only two years under the incentive program before leaving.
When town council discussed the new incentive package generally at committee of the whole on Monday night, Nov. 19 they weren’t sure how much money was involved, how the new program would work or if it was the town’s role to spend money on a provincial responsibility.
Fraser Mooney, spokesperson for South West Health says South West Health doesn’t receive any provincial funding to use as financial incentives for attracting doctors.
“But we see other jurisdictions across the province and across the country putting together these really attractive packages,” says Mooney. “We’re trying to compete, and that means gathering as many resources as we can.”
Cleveland is hoping representatives from South West Health will attend the joint meeting to answer questions from councillors about the new package.
He also wants to talk with the health authority, either at this meeting or at a separate meeting in the future, about the whole doctor recruitment strategy for Digby.
The mayor wants to hash out what hasn’t worked and what needs to be done differently in the future.
He hopes a new idea or some new ideas will come out of the meeting.
Councils may also discuss the lack of sidewalks to Tide View Terrace at this meeting.
The joint meeting, like all councils meetings, is open to the general public.