More Nova Scotians have access to a regular family doctor thanany other Canadians, according to the latest health report fromStatistics Canada. The 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) found that 94.9per cent of Nova Scotians have a regular family doctor, wellabove the national average of 85.8 per cent. “Access to a family doctor and other primary health-careproviders makes a big difference to the well-being of many NovaScotians,” said Health Minister Angus MacIsaac. “That’s why,through Nova Scotia’s plan for better health care — Your HealthMatters — we have been working so hard with our communitypartners to attract new doctors and keep them in the province. Although there is certainly more to be done, we’re seeing somepositive results.” Recruiting doctors requires a collaborative and continuous effortby district health authorities, communities, local doctors andthe provincial physician recruitment office. Already, in 2004,about 16 new family doctors have come to various communities inthe province. A five-year incentive program is offered in 21 rural communities.The program provides an annual bonus for each completed year ofservice, moving expenses, continuing medical education fundingand guaranteed minimum billing (income) for the year. At present,28 of the 34 positions are filled. Other provincial programs include: start-up contracts for familydoctors, alternative funding payment plans, a debt assistanceprogram, and a physician recruitment office that maintains arecruitment website and co-ordinates site visits, advertising,and CV distribution within the province. The move to develop more opportunities for community-basedservices (Primary Health Care) includes building multi-professional care teams. These teams will help improve access tohealth services for residents and improve the quality of worklife for health professionals. Nurse practitioners, who workjointly with family doctors, are one example of this PrimaryHealth Care system at work. There are currently 13 nursepractitioner positions in Nova Scotia. Although the statistics released this week are positive for NovaScotia, there are still thousands of residents who do not have afamily doctor. To help people find a doctor, the Department of Health offers aprovincial directory of doctors who are taking new patients. This is available to Nova Scotians via the Internet on thewebsite at www.gov.ns.ca/health/physicians/physicians.asp and via a telephone information line (902-424-3047). Ongoing recruitment efforts are also targeted at specialists,both for urban and rural areas. In the past few months, about 15new specialists have been recruited including doctorsspecializing in obstetrics and psychiatry in Southwest Nova andin anesthesiology and general surgery in Cumberland County. To help meet future demands, doctors across Nova Scotia are beingconsulted on a physician resource plan to ensure that Nova Scotiahas the right number of family doctors and specialists working inthe right places, now and in the future. Having an appropriate number of family doctors and specialistsacross the province is critical for a stable health-care system.