FREDERICTON (GNB) – A total of 25 new family physicians will be added to the provincial health-care system to ensure more New Brunswick residents have access to a primary care physician and to support reduced wait times.

The addition of 25 new family physicians could mean about 20,000 more New Brunswickers will have access to a family doctor and nearly eliminate the current wait list for this part of the primary care system.

“Strengthening the delivery and accessibility of health care is important to the quality of life of New Brunswick families,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “Adding more family doctors to the system will provide New Brunswickers better access to primary care, which in turn will reduce health care wait times.”

Distribution of physicians will be based on current vacancies, priorities identified by the regional health authorities, and data from Patient Connect NB, which is a provincially managed, bilingual patient registry for people without a primary health-care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner).

“Increasing the number of physicians is a strategic investment on the part of the New Brunswick government,” said Dr. Dharm Singh, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society. “By adding resources to the health-care system, we will be better positioned to provide optimal care and support for New Brunswick’s aging population. This investment will also help the province improve its performance when it comes to access to primary care and wait times.”

Adding 25 new family physicians represents an estimated annual investment of $15 million.

This funding will support the provincial government’s priorities as set out in the New Brunswick Family Plan‎, which aims to improve the health of all New Brunswickers.

In the past three years, 301 physicians have been hired. This has resulted in a net increase of 90 physicians, of which 41 are family physicians.

In addition to hiring more doctors, the government announced last June a new model for family medicine meant to provide patients with enhanced access to family physicians. The model, Family Medicine New Brunswick, is a team-based approach designed to improve patient access, increase collaboration between physicians using technology, and create a better work-life balance for physicians.