Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Life as a GP in Nova Scotia is so much better

Dr Simon Bonnington, formerly a GP in Somerset and an LMC vice-chair, on why working as a GP in Canada beats the UK hands down

 

Dr Simon Bonnington - online

Profile: Dr Simon Bonnington

Age: 47

Role: Family physician

Location: Annapolis, Nova Scotia

Career: A former GP in Somerset and vice-chair of Somerset LMC; emigrated to Canada in 2010

 

 

6.45am

The deep-throated gunning of an engine and a flash of amber lights penetrate my slumber. My subconscious recalls the 4am clatter of the highways snowplough.

7.15am

By the time I leave the house, the night’s four-inch snowfall has been cleared from our drive by Eric, our 77-year-old neighbour, with his plough. Like so many of my youthful elderly patients, he stretches his pension with small jobs. The warm midwinter sun greets my face. We’re on the same latitude as Turin and much of the snow will be gone by late afternoon.

My drive to work takes six minutes as I cross the causeway, pass the hydro- electric plant, halt at our only traffic-lights, then stop for the school bus.

7.30am

The brick and concrete health centre offers a stark contrast to the elegant 19th-century houses in the town. I ask the nurses about our four inpatients. The patient with diverticulitis is still pyrexial, her white cell count not settled, but she was comfortable through the night.

I walk along to our practice offices and start the computers. Letters wait on my desk for signatures. Electronic lab and X-ray reports lurk in the Nightingale inbox – our equivalent to EMIS.

8.15am

We meet for our daily multidisciplinary morning rounds. I review the patient with diverticulitis. Phoning the hospital, I speak directly to the consultant surgeon on call, then to the radiologist to arrange the CT. A nurse organises the ambulance. We’ll have an answer by lunchtime.

9.30am

My morning clinic of 15-minute appointments runs until 12pm, with time set aside to review our two registrars. My $300,000 retainer contract (approximately £180,000) covers 40 hours for 46 weeks, plus 19 weekend days a year, including 1:6 emergency department coverage, and overnight inpatient responsibility. Our practice is more chambers than partnership, with rent, staff and overheads provided by the health authority at cost. They employ our nurse practitioner and practice nurse, at no charge to us. No list size to worry about, no visits, no LES, NES, DES, no commissioning and no federations. Incorporation offsets my tax liability to 30%.

I have better hours, more money and less stress than in the NHS I left in 2010. What’s not to like?

Noon

Our unionised reception staff must have an hour’s break for lunch, so the shutters and phones go down. It’s just $4 (£2.40) for a freshly cooked lunch from the canteen.

1.00pm

Clinic until 5pm. A patient with COPD comes in, breathing badly. He hadn’t liked to call an ambulance because of the cost and couldn’t afford the prescription for the inhalers. I take him straight over to our small emergency department where point-of-care blood count, electrolytes and chest X-ray are available. We admit him for nebulisers, steroids and antibiotics. This is his second exacerbation, so I reassure him he’ll get coverage from the Government.

A collective collegiate environment encourages doctors to seek advice from each other several times a day. I’m the go-to for chronic pain.

5.10pm

Home in time for supper with my wife and children. The kids head off to their skating lessons at our local rink, while I head to the high school gym for soccer.

9.30pm

The kids are in bed. My wife and I relax with a glass of home-brewed wine to enjoy the latest episode of Murdoch Mysteries, a popular TV detective drama in Canada.

Readers' comments (11)

  • hmmmmm, sounds a bit to perfect me thinks...............46 weeks at 40 hours + 9.5 weekends +overnight responsibility : I'm making more doing less in the UK. sounds like you had a crappy job in the nhs before you left!!! good luck and i hope it works out!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Sounds good. I made the move to Australia, and For me it's just as good if not better - you don't have the extreme cold, but you do have very hot summers. Over here, fee-for-service means the harder you work, the more you're rewarded. And 15 minute appointments mean you can deal with issues in greater depth - more patient and doctor satisfaction.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous 10.51am - more for less you get?! Are you a GP? What am I doing wrong?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I'm booking my ticket now!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • After 15 years in GP land I would consider myself relatively deskilled in acute hospital medicine.As a refresher,did you do a short stint in hospital medicine before taking up this job?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I wonder what colour the grass is over there?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Nice to see that Canada is benefiting from your UK paid education

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "Nice to see that Canada is benefiting from your UK paid education"
    Not a sensible remark considering the number of health professionals that have been trained abroad at no cost to the British taxpayer and that Dr Bonnington had already put 20+ years to the service of the British population. Only good can come from professionals from all walks of life experiencing other cultures and ways of doing things surely?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Hi Simon good to hear from you and best, jealous wishes.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Ian,
    I thought students pay for education in the UK. I paid very little where I educated but I had to work for the government to compensate for the benefits of free education.
    As a separate issue, I think it's the government of the countries who need to look at their policies so that they keep doctors or other professionals around. What I see now, I can see the present government is not much interested in retaining the workforce. The reason? I don't know!
    Anyway, if we come down from our chair of politics, we are all humans and we move where we are better appreciated and more respected. After all, I should repeat Darwin's sentence that was one of my friend's pet expression: the most intelligent of species are not the survivors, but those who adapt with change (with a bit of modification).
    Best

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page

Have your say