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Province raises pay for rural doctors to keep health facilities open

The provincial government announced a temporary measure yesterday to help retain and recruit rural doctors and ease pressure on emergency rooms.

The goal, for now, is to keep pace and stabilize the system with short-term solutions, until long-term ones take hold.

The final solution is about money and will increase the salary of a family doctor trying to run an emergency room in the bay by up to $800.

This will bring them closer to what is paid at the emergency room in town and in other major centers.

Prime Minister Andrew Furey credited their association with pioneering the idea, saying the funds are fair for what is expected of them.

How long the new incentive will likely last will depend on its success, but for now it expires on Halloween, a scary prospect, says Tory Paul Dinn.

The Conservative health critic has said that although this is a positive announcement, it will not solve all problems and is temporary, raising questions about what will happen after October 31 .

The Prime Minister’s plenary press on health care continues today in Bonavista, where he will launch a hiring and retention campaign.

Meanwhile, the new president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association is singing the government’s praises.

Dr. Kris Luscombe says his approach sends a national signal that the province is open for business and a good place to work.

However, he admits there is still a lot of work to do, noting that rural and larger emergencies are feeling the pressure.

He says it is fair to say that the whole system is under strain, adding that the focus should be on increasing the capacity and availability of all service providers, including doctors, which will help reduce the flow to major emergencies.

Luscombe reiterated that rural or Category B emergency rooms are staffed with family physicians.

He noted that they do not have the same reinforcements or specialists on site in the major centers and that they need a wide level of expertise covering the full range of health care.

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