Dr. Kris Luscombe is the new President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA). Dr. Luscombe was installed as NLMA President by Dr. Katharine Smart, President of the Canadian Medical Association, during the NLMA’s Annual General Meeting on June 18, 2022.
Dr. Luscombe has practiced psychiatry in Grand Falls-Windsor for nearly 20 years. During his inaugural speech, he told delegates that his first priority as NLMA President will be implementing the NLMA’s new Memorandum of Agreement that was signed on May 3 after four years without a new contract.
“During that time, most specialties across the province fell below the Atlantic average. This had a direct impact on our ability to attract enough new doctors to the province to meet patient demand. The signing of our new contract resulted in many positive new programs to assist with physician recruitment and retention and will establish a more level playing field with the other Atlantic Provinces. However, we still have a lot to do to fix the systemic issues that physicians face daily in their practices,” said Dr. Luscombe.
“We still have a critical shortage of family doctors in every region and more than 125,000 people in the province do not have a family physician. Other specialties are also suffering the strain of an under-resourced and over-loaded health system.”
Dr. Luscombe explained that the problem is growing more severe each day, particularly in rural health centres across the province. He said that physicians and patients are also grappling with extensive surgical backlogs following two years of health system shutdowns. With the NLMA’s new contract set to expire in 2023, he said the Association will be meeting doctors over the next 12 months to hear their views on how to make the province an attractive place for our medical graduates to work. He said he also looks forward to building a collaborative partnership with the provincial government, which has recently made some positive steps toward addressing physician recruitment and retention.
“Doctors have risen to the health system’s challenges, but they cannot continue to shoulder the weight of these systemic challenges alone and at the cost of their own personal health and well-being. Physicians and our patients deserve better,” said Dr. Luscombe.
“The altruism and dedication by our members to sustain the health care system through repeated crises in recent years has been inspiring to us all but has generally come from great sacrifice. As we try to plot a better path forward, I recognize we will be facing a challenging year, and I will have to work very hard to honour and support the ongoing efforts of our dedicated members.”
L-R: NLMA Past President Dr. Susan MacDonald, Canadian Medical Association President Dr. Katharine Smart and NLMA President Dr. Kris Luscombe during the installation Ceremony on June 18, 2022, at The Rooms in St. John’s.