Northern Health continue to offer little information over their refusal to renew the contract of a popular doctor in Fraser Lake.
Dr. Richard Beever has been working at the Fraser Lake Medical Clinic for just under eight years and was dedicated to staying in the community long-term.
While he has been given a period of notice for the termination of his Fraser Lake contract, which will end on April 29, he says he has been kept in the dark to the reason for it.
Patients of Dr. Beever are very upset about the news that he will be leaving, and many have written letters to Northern Health and Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad, in objection to him being forced to leave.
“Oh the patients are rallying … they were never consulted and I think that is one of the main concerns they have,” said Dr, Beever.
Early last week, Rustad responded to one of the patient’s letters.
In an e-mail reply to patient Audrey Read he wrote: “I’ve had several discussions with Northern Health about Dr. Beever and the situation at Fraser Lake. Unfortunately I can’t relate the details but you need to know that this is not Northern Health’s doing. Northern Health has offered Dr. Beever a position anywhere he’d like in Northern Health,” wrote Rustad.
“Dr. Beever wants to take some courses and then will re-evaluate what he’d like to do in the future. Northern Health supports his decision and has left the offer open to him to return to Northern Health whenever he’d like.”
Dr. Beever says he was forwarded the e-mail and has since replied, informing Rustad that it was not his choice to leave Fraser Lake and that he has only been offered positions in Burns Lake and Mackenzie. He added that he will not be taking any courses or remedial training, just an exam this fall to gain an advanced designation on emergency medicine.
Rustad says he will be speaking with Northern Health again on the matter.
“I’m confused because Dr. Beever clearly wants to stay in Fraser Lake and seems to enjoy his practice there, and Northern Health say they would like to have him anywhere in the organization – so there seems to be a conflict,” Rustad told the Express on Thursday.
There has been some speculation from Dr. Beever and his patients that a contributing reason to him losing his job could be to do with two other part-time doctors leaving the clinic in August. A full-time husband and wife team have been hired to replace them.
“Maybe with the shortage of doctors in the area they thought well if this is the two people they can get they are better off to hire two and let one go or try and move them around rather than being short a doctor,” said Dr. Beever.
“That might be playing into the reason why I’m being let go,” he said.
Dr. Beever added that perhaps Northern Health are planning to change the recruitment model at the clinic and have less doctors and more nurses.
“If you can hire two and a half nurse practitioners for one doctor…well we’ve got one nurse practitioner and four doctors – from an economics point of view would it make some sense to reverse that ratio?” said Dr. Beever.
However, Dr. David Butcher, Vice President of Medicine and Clinic Programs with Northern Health said a recruitment model shift is not being planned for the Fraser Lake Clinic.
“A contract with a professional is a confidential human resource issue so I would not speak about the details of Dr. Beevers contract,” said Dr. Butcher.
“However I can state categorically that we are not intending to shift the mix of professionals.”
“If we were planning to shift how we were delivering recruitment services in Fraser Lake then we would do that in consultation…with the community,” he said.
He added that the contract termination at Fraser Lake was not to do with the hiring of two new full-time doctors.
“I can categorically state that issues with Dr. Beevers contract have nothing to do with the arrival of new physicians,” he said.
Rustad said he plans to speak with both Dr. Beever and Northern Health in attempt to clear up the conflicting information.