(Yellowknife, May 26, 2022) – Residents in Yellowknife are being advised of reduced access to services in Primary Care Services due to lower than normal practitioner staffing for clinics at Yellowknife Primary Care and Frame Lake Community Health Clinic. To accommodate staffing levels, Yellowknife Primary Care Centre will not be offering evening clinics, 4:30pm-9:30pm, on the following dates:
- May 26 and 30
- June 2, 3, 7 and 9
No additional service impacts are expected during this time, and all other regular services will remain accessible as normal. As practitioner staff levels are anticipated to remain a challenge over the coming months, any further service level impacts will be announced as they occur.
Practitioner shortages are related to a variety of factors, including departures, extended leaves for maternity or personal matters, and reduced locum practitioners availably . A national shortage of skilled health and social services professionals is making recruitment in many areas difficult, this is particularly true in recruiting the locum staff that our system is dependent on to fill gaps and provide coverage of regular services in Primary Care and other areas of the system.
At this time we are asking residents:
- To have patience; we have been seeing an increase in aggressive behaviours toward our staff by the public. We understand there are many frustrations related to access, and we ask residents to please have consideration for the staff who are doing their best to meet the needs of you and all residents.
- Please provide appropriate information to staff when booking your appointment so you may be directed to the most appropriate provider to serve you quickest.
- If you have an appointment, please use it; and if you can’t make it please cancel it. Missed appointments are all the more impactful when we have less appointments to offer, please call ahead and cancel if you cannot attend your appointment.
We encourage anyone who needs access to care to continue to seek it, although current volumes of services are reduced NWT health and social services system staff are still working hard to provide essential services to residents each day.
What is the NTHSSA doing to fix this issue?
The NTHSSA continues to actively and aggressively work to recruit the skilled professionals we need to provide the services NWT residents expect and deserve. This includes marketing the NWT as a great place to live and work nationally, regularly reaching out to hire locum and temporary staff, and continuing with a number of initiatives – such as the resident medical training program – that aim to contribute to longer term sustainability of staffing levels.
Where possible, resources are shifted within the system to maximize access for the public. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic health system staff has gone above and beyond with redeployments, overtime, and significant efforts to respond and provide services. Operating in this way has continued to stress the staff that are currently within the system, and the NTHSSA continues to work towards solutions to reduce and avoid staff burnout.
We will continue to work with partners at the Government of the Northwest Territories to explore options for ways to make the NWT a destination of choice for health and social service professionals, this is especially important as we compete with every other jurisdiction for the same limited pool of qualified and skilled professionals.