Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

The loss of Saudi Arabian resident physicians in Canada’s hospitals will likely cause delays, but ultimately won’t impact the quality of care, says a health care group that represents the majority of university hospitals.

The primary concern among some hospitals over the departure of the Saudi students is that there will be a delay in care in certain medical fields, said Paul-Emile Cloutier, the president and CEO of HealthCareCan.

About 1,000 Saudi residents and fellows were called back to the kingdom when it abruptly suspended diplomatic relations with Canada, a dramatic and angry response to a government tweet that criticized the Saudis for the arrest of female social activists.

The medical residents have been told to return to the country by Aug. 31, forcing hospitals to come up with contingency plans in order to fill the gaps.

Cloutier said contingency planning includes working out call schedules, weekend coverage and determining who will train students, which was the responsibility of the residents.

And health care is not exclusive to office hours, he added: many Saudi residents cover weekends and overnight call shifts.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic dispute with Canada: An explainer

READ MORE: B.C. officials seek clarity after Saudi Arabia to reportedly remove students

While he stopped short of naming specific programs likely to experience delays, Cloutier said he knows of a neurosurgery division that will lose 13 members of a 20-resident cohort.

“That means the person who would be getting the care might have to wait a little longer than usual because there’s 13 people absent,” he said.

In a recent column on the social media service LinkedIn, Dr. Frank Rybicki, chair of the radiology department at the University of Ottawa, warned of “staggering” implications for both Canada’s health care system and the students themselves.

“Disrupting the training for young Saudi physicians is heartbreaking for most, and stressful for all,” he wrote, describing the residents and fellows as front-line medical workers, regardless of their educational status.

Rybicki is urging the kingdom to extend the deadline for the residents to Oct. 15, which would split the academic semester and allow more time for discussion.

“From the Canadian hospital side, finding the proper human resources to manage the void created by the departure of our Saudi trainees will take herculean efforts,” he wrote. “Having a few months of grace will help hospitals manage and cope.”

Thierry Belair, a spokesman for Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, would only say that the government values the contributions residents make to the Canadian health care system, adding that, “We will always welcome them here.”

The federal government is continuing to engage with provinces, territories and partners like the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons and will “support them as they work to address this issue,” he added.

Janice Dickson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Mold shuts down construction at QC supportive housing project

Construction of the new 19-unit modular housing complex in Queen Charlotte has… Continue reading

Conservation office launches new gaurdian role for Haida Gwaii

Possition developed in part to improve partnerships with Haida Nation

Kitimat resident is Conservative choice for fall election

Claire Rattée is a former Kitimat councillor

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

All Native Basketball Tournament: Intermediate Finals

All Native Basketball Tournament: Intermediate Finals

VIDEO: Massive elk herd runs across Washington State highway

Elk have been making an appearance in the Pacific Northwest

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

Winter storm freezes U.S., halts air travel

Storm dumps snow or heavy rain, snarls travel in much of U.S.

Gwyneth Paltrow: Skier sued me to exploit my fame, wealth

The incident happened in Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Missing Surrey snowshoer caught in avalanche found dead on Vancouver mountain

North Shore Rescue resumed its search today after efforts were temporarily halted Tuesday due to snowstorm

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died: B.C. police watchdog

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Experts urge caution after 10 human-triggered avalanches across B.C.

One man is still stuck after avalanche on south coast

Most Read