Last week, the Government of Manitoba announced the creation of a joint task force aimed at reducing unnecessary administrative burdens faced by physicians – part of a $200 million Health Human Resource Action Plan announced in November 2022.
This announcement follows on the heels of recommendations the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce made to the provincial government alongside Doctors Manitoba last fall. On October 28, the business and physician advocacy organizations 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 last week’s provincial government announcement directly addresses an important recommendation from our joint MCC/Doctors Manitoba report.
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 Chamber network and business community feel that we need to be part of the solution.
There is a direct correlation between a community’s level of physician care, and that community’s economic potential and long-term sustainability. Manitoba’s ability to recruit and retain more doctors will be an important contributor to our future economy. We believe that it is important to approach physician recruitment and retention through the same lens that business leaders approach employee attraction, retention, and engagement. If we can apply efficiency, problem-solving, and rigorous process – which is how business approaches challenges every day – we will be able to find common-sense solutions to complex problems.