Doctor shortages, shifting landscape may mean fewer ERs in N.S.: senior official

A senior medical official says Nova Scotia may ultimately need fewer ERs than it has.

David Petrie, senior medical director for the emergency program of care for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, says such changes won't be universally popular.

But he says the discussion is necessary as the health system grapples with overall doctor shortages and a shifting landscape in emergency medicine.

Petrie says there are a number of factors contributing to ongoing temporary closures, especially over the summer months, that require remedies that are "difficult and complex."

Last week nine of the province's 38 hospital emergency rooms shut at least temporarily because of staffing shortages.

Petrie says officials aren't sure what the right number is, but it's "probably less" than the current numbers in place.

He says the key to any future decisions will be finding the right balance so as not to create more physician coverage problems.