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Health P.E.I. sweetens arrangement for temporary doctors

Dr. Laura O'Connor, the acting chief medical officer for P.E.I., says the recent bylaw change will allow periodic check-ins to make sure doctors are not burning out. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)
Dr. Laura O'Connor, the acting chief medical officer for P.E.I., says the recent bylaw change will allow periodic check-ins to make sure doctors are not burning out. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)

Health P.E.I. hopes changes to the way temporary doctors are employed will help keep them on the Island longer.

It had been more than a decade since the bylaws regarding medical staff — including locums — were updated. The new bylaws came into effect last month and will be implemented as different contracts come up for renewal.

The old bylaw called locums "temporary employees" regardless of whether they were filling in for someone else or just here for a certain length of time.

In order to be considered a locum now, you must be filling in for someone while they're away.

3-month period

A temporary employee can work for up to three months, but no longer.

After that, the option is to carry on as what's called "active medical staff," which means permanently.

Laura O'Connor, the acting chief medical officer for P.E.I., said about a dozen physicians will be impacted. Some locums have been working on PE.I. for more than three years.

"We want them to be, you know, have the same responsibilities, benefits that all our other active staff would have," O'Connor said.

"It lets us do periodic reviews to see how their progress is doing, to check in with them to see if they are burning out — all the benefits we would give to another regular doctor, I guess."

Health P.E.I. says all of the locums have or will be offered a new appointment.