Wait times are a priority for doctors because they impact patient outcomes and create stress on patients and their families.
Doctors are asking candidates in this provincial election to consider their recommendations on how to improve patient care.
The previous blog post discussed improving access to primary health care. Not only are Nova Scotians struggling to access primary care services, but they’re waiting far too long to access a family doctor, a specialist, to have surgery, and to access emergency care.
Physicians responding to a Doctors Nova Scotia survey identified a shortage of resources as the greatest challenge facing the medical profession in Nova Scotia today. Resources to meet healthcare demand was the top resource shortage noted, followed by the number of physicians practising in Nova Scotia.
According to the 2013 Wait Time Alliance (WTA) report card, Nova Scotia gets a grade of D for hip replacement, an F for knee replacement, a C for cataract surgery, and an A and A‐plus, respectively, for radiation therapy and coronary artery bypass grafting. The grades refer to the number of patients receiving treatment within identified pan‐Canadian benchmarks.
The WTA also grades provincial wait‐times websites based on timeliness, comprehensiveness, patient‐friendliness/accessibility, performance orientation and quality/reliability. Nova Scotia’s reporting website received a B.
The reasons for wait times are complex and many, however long wait times remain one of the most significant challenges to the provision of high‐quality health care.
Doctors are asking political parties to consider the following actions to reduce wait times and improve patient care in Nova Scotia:
- Continue to invest in wait times reporting.
- Continue to provide specific, targeted funding with specific accountabilities to address wait times challenges.
- Invest in moving appropriate patients from hospital and into community settings. Improving access to acute care beds must be a priority. Through making sure patients are seen in the most appropriate setting, access care can be improved throughout the system, including in the Emergency Department.
- Analyse activity-based funding initiatives in other jurisdictions to assess the impact on patient care and wait times.
Improving the province’s wait times would improve patient outcomes, reduce patient and physician stress, and improve the sustainability of the health‐care system through reducing costs.
What can you do?
Talk to your candidates today about health-care issues such as improved wait times. Use and share the information you’ve learned here with candidates, family and friends.
Need more info? Check out our election site for our 4 positions, access to candidates and their response to our questions.