The provincial government isn't trying to sabotage emergency room service in Alberton by hiring doctors who won't work there, says Health P.E.I.'s acting CEO.
Dr. Richard Wedge was responding to comments from opposition MLA Hal Perry, who accused the government of deliberately hiring doctors who are unwilling to work emergency room hours.
Wedge said that's not the case.
"Obviously, Health P.E.I. is not hiring physicians to shut down the Western Hospital emergency department," Wedge said.
"We're interested in having sustainable health-care services for West Prince and the idea that we'd try and sabotage the system ourself is ludicrous."
Western Hospital's emergency room has seen sporadic closures in recent months due to a doctor shortage.
Those closures include 11 days in January during which the emergency department will be closed overnight, along with a Jan. 13 closure for a full 24 hours.
In a news release, Perry said the government shut down emergency services in O'Leary and West Prince residents were seeing the same erosion of services in Alberton.
"Residents from all over West Prince, including Tignish, O'Leary and Alberton, are now forced to go to Summerside, which is putting additional stress on the emergency room system at that hospital," Perry said.
"Obviously, Health P.E.I. is not hiring physicians to shut down the Western Hospital emergency department," - Dr. Richard Wedge
He also said Health P.E.I. has a deliberate strategy to close emergency services at Western Hospital.
"This government is deliberately sabotaging the operations of the Alberton emergency room service by hiring physicians who they know are not qualified or willing to work in an emergency room setting as part of their strategy to shut down these services to West Prince residents," he said.
Wedge said he wasn't aware of any plans to close the emergency department permanently and Health P.E.I. has been continuously working on the issue, including bringing in locums so there won't be as many closures in February as there will be this month.
"We knew this situation was developing and we've been talking to the physicians there and reworking their schedules to try and maintain as much service as we can in order to keep the service sustainable in West Prince," he said.