BATHURST (GNB) – A total of 43 new physicians have been hired in the Restigouche and Acadie-Bathurst zones of the Vitalité Health Network since September 2014.

“This province has a lot to offer physicians who are looking to build a career and a life right here in New Brunswick,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny. “Your government will continue to work with its partners in the health-care sector to attract more doctors to the province.”

Kenny spoke on behalf of Health Minister Benoît Bourque.

Of the 43 doctors, 18 are general practitioners and 25 are specialists. This represents a net increase of six physicians in the region compared to three years ago. On average, the government hires almost 90 general practitioners and specialists provincially each year.

“I am confident that, by joining our efforts, we can contribute to reaching the Vitalité Health Network’s mission, which is to excel in improving the health of the population,” said Dr. France Desrosiers, vice-president of medical services, training and research, Vitalité Health Network. “By improving recruitment, we will also be able to provide continued primary health services as close as possible to the person’s living environment, and we will ensure that we promote a culture of excellence.”

The provincial government is taking steps to enhance doctor recruitment initiatives, establishing a co-ordinated approach with its partners to ensure that New Brunswick has the right specialists and health care professionals.

There are several partners involved in the recruitment process, including the Department of Health, the regional health authorities and the New Brunswick Medical Society. The department has also hired a recruitment co-ordinator who is overseeing these efforts.

Hiring more doctors supports initiatives outlined in the New Brunswick Family Plan framework, which focuses government action in seven priority areas: improving access to primary and acute care; promoting wellness; supporting people with addictions and mental health challenges; fostering healthy aging and support for seniors; advancing women’s equality; reducing poverty; and supporting people with disabilities.

In addition to hiring more doctors, the government announced in June a new model for family medicine meant to provide patients with enhanced access to family physicians. The model, known as Family Medicine New Brunswick, is a team-based approach. Physicians will have their own rosters of patients, but will also provide a service to all patients of doctors on their team. This is intended to improve access to physicians, including during evening and weekend hours. The model aims to result in easier recruitment of physicians; more teamwork and better care for patients when physicians are away; and greater integration of electronic medical records.