The current waitlist for Health Region 3 for a family physician now stands at about 17,000. 9,000 of these individuals waiting for a family doctor are in Fredericton. The loss of four family doctors this summer exacerbated an already bad situation. Many on this list have been waiting for years, and the list keeps growing.
But there is a light visible at the end of the tunnel. As soon as February 8, a new Nurse Practitioners Clinic is opening at the Priestman Centre on the corner of Regent and Priestman. With six nurse practitioners slated to join over the next few months, this clinic will take about 6,000 patients off the long waitlist.
I have long been advocating for a greater diversity of healthcare providers to be able to provide primary healthcare. New Brunswickers should not have to rely only on solitary physicians or Emergency Rooms. Most primary healthcare needs can be met by nurse practitioners, even pharmacists can diagnose and prescribe medication for some common ailments. We need to make sure the system is set up to encourage a wider use of these available experts and resources. I am delighted that Fredericton will have six new nurse practitioners working together in this clinic. I am still pushing for pharmacist services to be covered by Medicare.If you do not have a family doctor, please make sure you are on the Patient Connect list by calling 811. You can also register for the Patient Connect list at www.gnb.ca/patientconnectNB