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Editorial - Recruitment initiative intriguing concept

The issue of health care is one which seems to be the hot topic for most these days.

The issue of health care is one which seems to be the hot topic for most these days.

While the problems surrounding the health sector are varied, from the decline in hospital beds, to length of waiting lists, but the galvanizing concern seems to be the lack of doctors.

Certainly in Yorkton that is an issue which is becoming serious, especially when you look at the area of family physicians.

The problem is recruiting sufficient numbers of physicians, and that is an issue for many communities in Canada.

Yorkton is no exception.

At present there are 13 family physicians practicing in Yorkton. The desired number is one family physician for every 1,200 residents. The Sunrise Health Region recommends a community the size of Yorkton have 18 family physicians, explained a release circulated at a recent press conference on doctor recruitment in the city.

The press conference was to announce a new collaborative effort involving the City of Yorkton, Sunrise Health Region, and five other community organizations which will explore strategies to entice physicians and other health care professionals to the area, and ways to ease their transition into the community.

It's an ambitious undertaking considering almost every other community is looking to do the exact same thing. There is a general shortage of doctors, and many rural communities, even those the size of Yorkton with a regional health centre, are finding attracting enough doctors a difficult thing to accomplish.

The issue had two sides to consider.

On the surface a major question is why municipalities are suddenly being thrust into competition with one another to find doctors, when health care is a clearly defined provincial responsibility.

There is an underlying feeling the province needs to find how to recruit more doctors to Saskatchewan and then place them in communities where they are needed most.

However, until the province takes up that responsibility, local communities are left seeking solutions themselves.

The Yorkton collaborative is an interesting approach to the situation, in that it brings a rather broad cross section of groups to the table, covering municipal government, business, the health region and tribal council to the table to create a single solution.

The question is what solution can be found which will make Yorkton the community of choice for doctors.

Lawrence Wegner, president of the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce said he believes city attributes such as education are important assets in recruitment. "What we're trying to do here is sell Yorkton as a community," he said.

Wegner said what the collaborative doesn't want to do is to start throwing money at recruiting doctors. "Incentives are wonderful, but they don't always work," he said " We don't want to fall into the trap and get into a bidding war."

Wegner is right in his thinking. It is a dangerous game to start throwing money at the issue because another community is always likely to have more money.

The best approach is to show doctors what sort of amenities Yorkton has, not just for the doctor, but for their families. Ultimately a doctor, like the rest of us, wants to live in a place where they can be part of a vibrant community with opportunities in education, sports and arts.

In that respect the collaborative should be able to put together a good package when you look at the quality of life Yorkton has to offer.