07/31/2012 10:05 EDT | Updated 09/30/2012 05:12 EDT

Hospitals struggle to serve patients after shift cutbacks

A hospital in Terrebonne, north of Montreal, is scrambling to meet patient demands after a dozen general practitioners cut back their hours.

Pierre-Le Gardeur hospital has lost the equivalent of six full-time practitioners since Health Minister Yves Bolduc allowed young doctors to cut back their shifts at hospitals to work in private clinics.

Dr. Hoang Duong, the president of the council of doctors at the Le Gardeur hospital, said the cutbacks are having a negative impact.

"It will increase each doctor's workload. There were eight general practitioners who were here at the same time to heal people at the hospital. Now we have to reduce this number to six," said Duong.

The hospital is asking emergency physicians, specialists and nurses to do more to alleviate the additional workload.

"Nurses and general practitioners will work together in the hospital and these two people will work as a team to evaluate and treat patients," said Dr. Duong.

According to Dr. Duong, the Lanaudiere region northeast of Montreal is the hardest hit by the changes.