Last week, the Government of Manitoba announced the implementation of a $200 million Health Human Resource Action Plan, with incentives to retain existing health care practitioners and both train and recruit new doctors and nurses. READ THE PROVINCE OF MANITOBA ANNOUNCEMENT OR WATCH THE NEWS CONFERENCE HERE.
On October 28, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and Doctors Manitoba released a joint report with recommendations to attract and retain more physicians to rural and Northern Manitoba. The recommendations were based on stakeholder feedback from a rural health summit we held in September 2022 in Portage la Prairie, and which were supported by extensive research and additional expert consultation.
The MCC/Doctors Manitoba report, titled Manitoba‘s Physician Shortage: Manitoba Physician Recruitment & Retention Recommendations from the Rural & Northern Health Summit, provides five recommendations with supporting actions to recruit and retain more doctors, including:
- Recruiting more physicians by expanding training, streamlining recruitment efforts, and identifying financial supports for transition to practice.
- Finding efficiencies to free up physicians’ time for more patient care, including by making it easier for physicians to consult other
physicians to guide care.
- Addressing physician burnout, the single biggest risk to physicians leaving practice, by reducing the administrative burden, reviewing on-call expectations, and improving physician engagement.
- Retaining physicians in practice for longer with better peer support and mentorship, assisting with physician infrastructure costs, and enhancing the physician retention program.
- Supporting the important role local communities and chambers of commerce can play in recruiting and retaining physicians and their families.
We are pleased to see that Friday’s provincial government announcement directly addresses recommendations in our joint MCC/Doctors Manitoba report, including:
- Establishing a centralized service, called Virtual Emergency Care and Transfer Resource Service (VECTRS), to support rural and northern physicians and other health-care providers to obtain specialist consultative advice, locate the most appropriate bed available in another hospital when needed, and co-ordinate inter-facility medical transportation to the most appropriate facility when required.
- Establishing a joint task force to reduce administrative burden for physicians.
- Working to increase class intake positions for doctors.
Accessible health care is important to all Manitobans, including to the business community, and reliable, quality care is essential to rural and northern economies. Health care is indeed an economic issue because without a strong health care system, we simply can’t support the attraction of new residents, we can’t promote tourism with confidence, and we restrict Manitobans’ ability to age in place.
The initiatives announced last week by the Premier and Minister of Health are an important first step in addressing the serious challenges associated with the recruitment and retention of physicians in rural and northern Manitoba. The health human resource action plan is also important to begin to address workforce challenges more broadly throughout the health system, which is something that our members have made clear is critically important to the economic health of Manitoba.