SAINT JOHN (GNB) – A total of 52 new physicians have been hired in the Saint John region since September 2014.

“Your government understands how important access to primary health care is for New Brunswickers,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “We are committed to securing health care across the province and that begins with ensuring we continuously recruit and hire physicians and specialists.”

Of the 52 doctors, 21 are general practitioners and 31 are specialists. This represents a net increase of eight physicians in the region compared to three years ago. On average, the government hires almost 90 family physicians and specialists provincially each year.

“Recruitment of physicians is, and has always been, a priority for Horizon Health Network,” said Dr. Margot Burnell, chief of staff for the Saint John Area, Horizon Health Network. “Our recruiting efforts continue to attract highly-skilled and wonderful physicians to Horizon and our province. Physicians stay because New Brunswick is a great place to practise, to live, and to raise a family.”

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.

“The first thing I noticed when I came to this great city just a few weeks ago was the friendliness of the staff and of everyone working here in the Saint John Regional Hospital,” said Dr. Julius Poon, thoracic surgeon. “It was clear to me that people here are very proud of their province and even prouder of their health care system.”

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.