Manitoba Health remains committed to providing a family doctor for those who want one, according to a spokesperson for the department.
Jodee Mason, press secretary for Health Minister Erin Selby, said the department continues to work to bring health care closer to home for all Manitoba families.
Absent from her statement, however, was a timeline.
In 2011, an NDP campaign promise said every Manitoban who wanted a family doctor would have one by 2015.
While the department has added to the number of doctors working throughout the province, shortages in Prairie Mountain Health dominate the landscape.
“The Family Doctor Finder phone line has successfully connected more than 8,000 Manitobans with a primary care provider since last fall,” Mason said.
“The upgraded service now gives us the ability to track where there is need, and will help to give us a better idea of the needs within each community and region.”
While the program has successfully matched patients with doctors, in the Prairie Mountain region, the program has had 262 registrars and 144 matches — a success rate under 55 per cent.
Mason said regional health authorities take the lead on recruiting physicians and nurses, with the province’s support.
“Since 1999, we have 3,702 more nurses working in the province and 562 more doctors.”
Nineteen doctors recently completed the Medical Licensure Program for International Medical Graduates, a one-year training program that prepares physicians for practice in rural areas.
“Two (doctors) will start in Brandon and one in Virden later this month, while doctors have recently started practice in a number of other communities in the Prairie Mountain Health region, including Minnedosa, Deloraine and Killarney,” Mason said.
Despite the efforts, Hamiota, Virden, Russell, Killarney, Melita, Minnedosa and Neepawa are all short on doctors, according to a community stakeholder handout from PMH adminstration.
Nephrology and psychiatry departments in Brandon are also running short.
Nursing shortages in a number of areas of Westman will leave another 15 hospitals and personal care homes “further compromised,” the handout states.
Prairie Mountain Health CEO Penny Gilson said after the most recent audit, the region is expecting a $7-million surplus this year despite the handout suggesting the surplus will only be $4 million.
The additional revenue is “due to ongoing significant vacancies in some program/service areas” coupled with some unexpected funding from Manitoba Health.
The surplus means administrators are forecasting a $3.9-million net deficit due to past debt.
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