Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Doctor dear doctor, you too can be replaced

It seems that the fight between the doctors and the government is getting meaner and meaner. As a cab driver said the other day, “it’s starting to get dirty”. No question about that.

I was at St. Clare’s yesterday visiting a sick friend and got talking to some of the hospital staff. They seem to think the doctors’ resignations backfired on them because they didn’t expect the government to call their bluff. The staff I talked to said they think the majority of the MDs will not leave and instead will come to a “last minute” agreement with the government to allow them to save face and keep on earning those multi hundred-thousand dollar salaries.

Kudos to Jerome Kennedy for letting us know how much some of these doctors earn. As a matter of fact, I’d like to see all of the salaries reported out because after all, they do come from the public purse. Apparently, we can learn the information through a request for access to information – would be nice to see the Telegram or NTV or CBC do that.

It was interesting to hear the President of the Newfoundland Medical Association Dr. Pat O’Shea talk in terms of money, “"I think the Minister is trying to play the money game, and we knew this was going to happen," O'Shea told reporters. "He is trying to persuade the public that doctors are greedy, that they are getting tons of money."

Gee, I may be wrong here, but isn’t that exactly what the doctors are doing as well? Something about the pot and the kettle comes to mind.

It’s also important to realize that the MDs make considerably more than their base salary. Many of them have additional appointments within the health region for which they work and also to the medical school. As Kennedy said, “Dr. Julia Trahey receives a $95,000 stipend in addition to her salary as a result of her clinical duties at Eastern Health.” One has to wonder precisely what extra work the good doctor does to earn that $95,000.

Patients are caught as the pawns in this battle of wills between the MDs and the government. As the doctors talk about doomsday scenarios they are clearly trying to swing public opinion in their direction. Now that government is indeed calling their bluff, they need to exercise caution as to how far they play that card. Bottom line is that it may take some time, but doctor dear doctor, you too can be replaced.

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