Britain could solve Canada's doctor shortage
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Friday, January 12, 2007 11:22AM EST
The United Kingdom's surplus of doctors could solve the physician shortage in Canada, the British Medical Association has suggested.
It's predicted Britain will have a surplus of 3,200 medical specialists by 2010. The British Medical Association told reporters in London on Thursday that if those specialists can't find jobs in the United Kingdom, they might consider moving to Canada.
"If juniors cannot secure suitable jobs in the future within the NHS, (National Health Service) they may look overseas for employment," British Medical Association chairman James Johnson said in a news release.
"What a disastrous waste of public money."
Canadian doctors say the specialists would be welcomed with open arms.
According to numbers provided by the CMA, 3,596 doctors in practice in Canada in 2006 are from the United Kingdom or Ireland.
But CMA president Colin McMillan cautions that the extra doctors would do little to solve Canada's primary medical need -- which is the lack of family physicians.
"Our primary need right now is more family doctors, with over three million Canadians not able to access a physician," McMillan told The Globe and Mail in a telephone interview from Charlottetown.
Instead of relying on other countries, Canada should become self-sufficient with its own bank of physicians, he said.
In November, the College of Family Physicians of Canada said a shortage of family doctors is a major hurdle in overcoming wait times for primary and specialized health care.
Without family doctors, it becomes increasingly difficult for patients to get referrals for more highly specialized services, resulting in delays for such appointments and services, the college said.
The college recommended the establishment of a group to study, develop and recommend primary care wait time strategies to ensure access to health care for all Canadians.