NB Health dept. info shows growing shortage of family doctors

Health Minister Bruce Fitch signed the e-mail releasing the info on doctor vacancies. Photo: Stephen MacGillivray

A series of numerical tables obtained today from the New Brunswick Department of Health shows that the shortage of family doctors in the province appears to have grown steadily over the last two years.

The figures show that as of June 1, 2023 there were 131 vacant positions in the category General Practice/Family Medicine compared with 76 on October 1, 2021.

A note accompanying the tables says the count represents the number of positions available for recruitment in the province including vacancies, new available positions and positions that are not yet vacant, but where doctors have notified their health authorities they plan to retire or close their practices.

At the same time, the health department says that as of June 9, 2023, it knows of 73,942 New Brunswickers who do not have a primary care provider.

Warktimes received the figures today after requesting them last month under New Brunswick’s Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Charts show GP vacancies

GP-FM: Family Medicine – Community 
GP+ : Hospitalist, GP-Oncology support, GP-Geriatrics etc…
ER: Family doctors who work in emergency rooms.
The figures are broken down in the left column by health authority (Vitalité & Horizon) and health zone. Zone 1SE, for example, refers to Moncton and Southeastern N.B., which includes the Tantramar area.

The provincial health department provided 22 tables that chart monthly family physician vacancies. While the totals rise and fall, the overall trend shows a fairly steady increase:

January 1, 2022: 78 vacancies
June 1, 2022: 91.5
December 1, 2022: 94
January 1, 2023: 104
April 1, 2023: 112
June 1, 2023: 131

Warktimes also requested the total number of nurse practitioner vacancies in the province. As of April 30, 2023, Vitalité reported seven vacancies. The number listed for Horizon is 21, but it is undated. There was also one nurse practitioner vacancy in New Brunswick’s extra-mural program (EMP).

Doctor shortage in Sackville

As reported by CHMA, Dr. Catherine Johnston retired from her medical practice in June while Dr. Andrea Wall is taking another position in Moncton on August 4 leaving hundreds of their patients in the Sackville area without a family doctor.

During a public meeting last week, Dr. Richard Lemay, Horizon’s director of primary care in the Moncton region, outlined plans for a clinic at the Tantramar Community Health Centre near the hospital to care for some of their patients who need help most.

He said the clinic would start by offering medical care three days a week in September with plans to extend its services later.

For more details from CHMA’s Erica Butler, click here.

To view the charts and information Warktimes obtained from the health department, click here.

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1 Response to NB Health dept. info shows growing shortage of family doctors

  1. Bill Carroll says:

    Hi Bruce, thanks for getting this info from the DoH. I knew that it was in there someplace.

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