© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Health Minister Doug Currie speaks to a rally. With him is Premier Robert Ghiz.
Health minister Doug Currie wants to make it easier for doctors to get their licence to practice in Prince Edward Island, but he says the college of physicians and surgeons is pushing back against any changes.
Currie says the accreditation process is too onerous and is even preventing some physicians from coming to P.E.I.
“This was raised officially two years ago, and I’ll be honest, I’m still very frustrated with the current progress,” Currie said.
“I feel that if we’re spending approximately $50 million for services out-of-province, and large volume of that money goes to Nova Scotia, I don’t understand why there is such a tedious process to license physicians here in the province.”
He said recently there was an emergency room doctor who was practising at a hospital in Ontario who wanted to come to P.E.I. to fill a locum position.
He eventually gave up after he realized how much red tape was involved in trying to get a licence to practice from the P.E.I. College of Physicians and Surgeons.
“He became very frustrated with the volume of paperwork and, for lack of better descriptors, process, that he just got frustrated and he put his hands in the air,” Currie said.
He says he raised this issue two years ago hoping for some changes, but the P.E.I. College of Physicians and Surgeons which has the sole authority to issue physician licences in P.E.I. wasn’t interested.
“There was pushback from the college, and there was pushback to me, but as the minister I plan to continue to push the agenda, to continue to raise conversations about ways that we can support physicians that want to come in to work from other provinces,” Currie said.
Alberton-Roseville MLA Pat Murphy raised the issue in the legislature Friday while asking what steps government has taken to try to fill ongoing physician in West Prince.
“I often hear of doctors that apply on P.E.I. to the college of physicians and they don’t receive a licence, and then you hear a month or so later that they are practicing in another province,” Murphy said.
Currie said he, too, has heard anecdotally it may be easier for physicians from other parts of the country to obtain a licence in Nova Scotia than it is in P.E.I.
That’s why he wants to explore ways in which P.E.I. could perhaps streamline its accreditation processes.
Atlantic health ministers are holding regional meetings in June, and one of the topics on the agenda will be a potential regional standard for physician licences.
“I would like to continue to work with the College in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to find ways as a region that we can be very consistent and very efficient with how we license physicians to practice here in the province,” Currie said.
“I want to continue to work with the College and find ways that we can be more efficient in licensing to welcome physicians who want to come into the province, whether it be a locum or to work on a more permanent basis.”
The Guardian attempted to contact the P.E.I. College of Physicians and Surgeons for comment on this story, but was told the sole spokesperson, Dr. Cyril Moyse, was out of the province and unavailable for an interview.