Doctor waitlist hits 100,000 in Nova Scotia

The number of Nova Scotians without a family doctor has hit an all-time high, with over 100,000 people on the waitlist this month.

Since the list became public in 2018, over 50,000 people have added their names to it.

A news release from the NDP caucus says it’s a grim milestone as tens-of-thousands of families in Nova Scotia are left struggling to access health care.

“Neither the Houston Conservatives or the Liberals before they have been able to make a dent in making sure people have a primary care provider,” said NDP Health and Wellness spokesperson Susan Leblanc in a news release. “While there have been some gains in hiring “That can only do so much when we see dozens of doctors retire or leave the province each year. There has to be a retention plan too.”

According to a release from the NDP, the majority of people who added their names to the waitlist last month did so due to their doctor retiring, moving, or closing their practice.

Evelyn Hornbeck is one of thousands waiting for a family doctor. She says she was forced to add her name to the waitlist in October when her doctor abruptly retired.

“It’s been very stressful having to go without a family doctor. I take prescription medication that I can’t get at a walk-in clinic and it feels like a ticking-time bomb coming up on the prescription I have running out,” said Hornbeck. “I put myself on the list but there’s no guarantee and it doesn’t seem like the Houston government is doing anything to make the situation any better soon.”

In the month of June, the NDP says over 7,000 people added their names to the list.

The Liberals came to power in 2013 after promising a doctor for every Nova Scotian, while the Houston government ran on a promise to fix the province’s health care just last year.

“What this list represents is tens of thousands of families that are struggling to make sure they have the primary care they need: young parents with children who can’t get their vaccines on time, seniors struggling to keep up with their prescriptions and everyone in between,” said NDP Leader Claudia Chender. “We hear it again and again, big promises on health care when the Liberals or Conservatives are trying to win power but little to no action that actually makes a difference for the people of Nova Scotia.”

The NDP says innovative and practical solutions are needed, including collaborative emergency centres, and collaborative health teams throughout the province to ensure everyone can get the care they need, when and where they need it.

A news release from Nova Scotia’s Liberal party says one in 10 Nova Scotians are currently without access to a primary care provider – a number that rose about 40 per cent under the current government.

“No matter how you slice it, health care has gotten worse by every metric under Premier Houston,” Liberal Leader Zach Churchill in a news release. “Hospitals are pushed beyond their limits, the doctor waitlist is higher than ever, and people are going without life-saving surgeries. It’s not enough to simply acknowledge the problem; Nova Scotians deserve the solutions they were promised.”

Churchill says Nova Scotia Health committed to providing access to virtual care for everyone on the registry by the end of June during a public accounts committee meeting on April 20. However, to date, only a fraction has been invited to benefit from the service, according to the party.

“The Houston government has consistently broken critical campaign promises that Nova Scotians elected them on,” says Churchill. “More people than ever are on their own when it comes to accessing health care because of this government’s mismanagement on the file.”

In May, Nova Scotia’s doctor waitlist sat at about 92,000 people, — which was a record-high at that time.