NL Gazette

Is doctor shortage illegal in N.L? A bioethicist weighs in.

Take away Keys:

  • Province struggling for family doctors.
  •  Memorial University highlights its impact can be dangerous to society. 
  • The government is ignoring the fact.

Due to long-standing health shortages in Newfoundland and Labrador, doctors continue to warn that the health care system is collapsing. One bioethicist warns that lack of access to your doctor may even be considered illegal. 

The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, a state medical union, has repeatedly reported that 20% of people in the state do not have a family doctor, and statistics have been stagnant since at least 2019.

Jennifer Flynn, an associate professor of bioethics at Memorial University, points out this longevity as a national danger signal. 

The Canada Health Act includes a government legal obligation to provide “reasonable access” to medical care for all residents, Flynn said.

Flynn said in an interview Tuesday that most people would think this violates reasonable access standards. Regardless of the complex requirements, she added that the government needs to provide access to medical care. 

And if experts and the general public decide that the government is ignoring that promise, they can hold them accountable through the media and voting. 

He believed the longer (the shortage), the less likely the public will believe that their commitment is taken seriously.

The doctor himself reflects Flynn’s concerns. 

Dr. Sean Metcalf, Ph.D. St. John’s family doctor said his office phone constantly rings. 

Further, Metcalfe said he didn’t know where to take people in need of his doctor, and that people with severe, untreated illnesses were often turned away.

“After all, you probably say yes to more people than you should,” and you can’t take good care of them all, Metcalf said. 

He added that he sometimes sees 40 patients in one shift, which is straining his clinic due to mass layoffs and ineffective local recruitment plans.

 “From a primary care perspective, we wanted leadership to recognize the struggles facing family medicine,” he said. 

He comments we see no response from health ministers.

Read More: Is N.L.’s doctor shortage illegal? A bioethicist weighs in | CBC News

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *