Recently, patients have been enduring longer wait times and difficulties during medical emergencies, as the Cypress Regional Hospital is dealing with staff shortages. 

Specifically, only one permanent anesthesiologist has been in Swift Current for over a year.

The hospital has now secured local coverage temporarily, which will ensure multiple anesthesiologists are present for the next three months.

Swift Current MLA and Saskatchewan Minister of Health Everett Hindley said the issue is affecting more than just the city.

“We have 12 vacancies in the province right now,  that includes the ones we have here in Swift Current, and we'll be utilizing the locum coverage,” he said. “I believe we’re bringing anesthesiologists out of Saskatoon to fill the gaps for three months, but that's not the ultimate solution.” 

The ideal solution is to find one or more anesthesiologists on a permanent full time basis in each affected area.

“We're funded for three positions for anesthesia here in Swift Current and that helps to maintain those services on a regular basis but also so that people can take vacations, they can have sick days and other life events that come up for people. Happens to all of us, and that's also part of the issue around recruitment.” 

There are new incentives for medical professionals to seek employment in the Saskatchewan Health Authority, which Hindley hopes will draw in skilled workers from out of province.

“We're trying to put our best foot forward as a province here and provide competitive wages and salaries and benefits for anesthesiologists,” he said. “We also have a new incentive that we created here not that long ago, an additional $200,000 over five years plus some moving expenses to try and recruit anesthesiologists here to Saskatchewan.”

Hindley mentions the action plan recently implemented, as training is one of the best ways to keep these positions filled well into the future. 

“Training is also another important pillar of our four point action plan for healthcare. You've seen us expand a number of healthcare training seats, so there's an additional 550 more training seats that will be in 18 different healthcare designations across the province, starting this fall with significant uptake in a number of those.”

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