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Physicians offer health-care solutions

The New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) agrees with Brunswick News columnist Norbert Cunningham that comprehensive health-care reforms are needed to improve access to care (Need wide-ranging plan for health-care overhaul, Times & Transcript, April 2, 2019).

Mr. Cunningham’s frustration is understandable. Physicians — indeed, all New Brunswickers — are feeling the same frustration.

But we wish to correct Mr. Cunningham on one important point, that the NBMS “offered no solution” to concerns about emergency department wait times.

I expressed in media interviews last week that solutions could include educating citizens on when they should — or should not — access emergency departments, recruiting more physicians, and reviewing policies concerning how seniors and others access long-term care services.

The NBMS has long advocated and worked to improve the health-care system. In 2018, we suggested tackling primary care access by recruiting more physicians and improving standards for walk-in clinics. We launched Family Medicine New Brunswick in partnership with government to improve patient access through team-based care and flexible clinic hours.

The NBMS operates the Provincial EMR, which enables quicker access to patient data. Technology must be embraced in New Brunswick; telemedicine allowing patients to “visit” physicians remotely has proven to be successful across Canada and would be hugely beneficial here.

At present, we are working with government to eliminate physician billing numbers. We believe these changes will lead to more physicians choosing New Brunswick, reducing the burden on our emergency departments and improving wait times.

Finally, Mr. Cunningham mentioned “competing silos,” suggesting the NBMS and other organizations slow the system down. While physicians and other stakeholders collaborate on many issues, we agree that there is always room for improvement.

Challenge often breeds innovation. It is my belief that through communication, collaboration, and innovation, we can improve the health-care system in New Brunswick.

Dr. Serge Melanson, CCFP-EM

President, New Brunswick Medical Society