Report Issued On La Loche Doctors Dispute

Monday, June 27, 2005 at 20:39



Saskatchewan Health released a report today that calls into question the firing of four doctors in La Loche late last year.


The report was compiled for the government by Mick Grainger, a consultant who talked to several different people at the heart of the affair.


Grainger concludes that the seeds for the dispute appear to have been laid back in November 2002 when the doctors heading up the clinic in La Loche decided to let go a part-time physician who was popular in the community.


The move apparently annoyed many residents, who felt their wishes were not being respected.


They even held a protest outside the La Loche Health Centre in October 2003.


Then in June 2004, the board of directors for the Keewatin Yatthe health region wrote letters to some of the doctors on staff at the La Loche clinic, informing them they were terminating their contracts, effective December 1st, by invoking an opt-out clause.


That decision angered the Saskatchewan Medical Association, which protested the move and called for the board to reverse the decision.


However, the board said it felt it had no other choice.


In the report released today, the consultant for the government says the situation could have been better handled.


He notes that at least two of the doctors who were fired felt the decision was arbitrary and may have damaged their reputations.


At the same time, Grainger writes that he understands some board members on Keewatin Yatthe apparently felt the relationship between the doctors and community had deteriorated to a point where something had to be done.


In conclusion, Grainger noted that better clarity is needed around termination provisions in future contracts between physicians and health regions.


Grainger also says the Department of Health should revisit the ways it stays in contact with northern health boards like Keewatin Yatthe.


Grainger adds the department should offer the health region short-term support to relieve capacity issues.


His report also says Keewatin Yatthe should maintain regular contact with its physicians in a bid to improve relations.


As for the SMA, Grainger says the association needs to better balance its role as an advocate for physicians and a partner in the provision of health services.