Doctors working in walk-in clinics are allowed to stay put, but a recent health authority document says if a new physician requests to work in a walk-in clinic they will “most likely be denied.”
Dr. Lynne Harrigan, vice president of medicine for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, says the decision is part of the authority’s transition to collaborative care.
“Care that’s provided in walk-in clinics is not the ideal, so we want to focus our limited resources on team-based care,” Harrigan said. “We know the best care patients can receive is from team-based care with a family doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, dietitian, psychologist, etc.”
Harrigan estimates it will take 5-10 years to move from the current system to the collaborative approach — and that the new model may involve walk-in clinics providing after-hours coverage.
Not everyone is on board with limiting the number of doctors at walk-in clinics. Former health minister Dave Wilson says it’s “irresponsible” because many patients count on walk-in clinics for care.
“There are huge voids in communities across this province that don’t have access to a family physician, and a walk-in clinic really is the only way for many of them, thousands of Nova Scotians, to get the primary care that they need,” Wilson said.
“I think the government needs to revisit that move and hopefully ensure that people have the access to a family physician or primary care personnel before they restrict the ability of people to practice.”
Wilson says he believes the move to limit doctors from working at walk-in clinics will hinder the province’s attempts to recruit and retain physicians.
Health Minister Leo Glavine says walk-in clinics aren’t going anywhere — although they will change — but the goal is to make sure there’s a family doctor available for everyone who wants one.
H/T CBC News