New provincial government commits to fix health care

On Aug. 17, Nova Scotians elected a Progressive Conservative (PC) government under Premier Tim Houston.

Premier Houston campaigned on overhauling the health-care system and care delivery in Nova Scotia – revamping the system that currently has over 75,000 Nova Scotians without access to primary care.

Michelle Thompson is the new minister of Health and Wellness. Together with Dr. Kevin Orrell, she oversees the recruitment of doctors and other health-care workers to Nova Scotia through the newly created Office of Health Care Professionals Recruitment.

Recruiting and retaining health-care providers was central to Premier Houston’s campaign. He talked about respecting and valuing doctors so they will stay in the province long term, giving patients reliable access to health care when and where they need it.

Highlights of Premier Houston’s campaign commitments included:

  • Providing virtual care or telehealth coverage for people without a family doctor
  • Enhancing physician recruitment and retention
  • Improving compensation and local decision-making for family doctors
  • Expanding virtual care to specialist appointments and post-operative care
  • Improving surgical wait times
  • Establishing clinical health service plans for every region to coordinate staffing needs
  • Creating a strategy to recruit international medical graduates
  • Providing universal access to private mental health services
  • Establishing a 24-7 telehealth counselling service
  • Adding 2,500 single beds for long-term care
  • Reinstating a training grant for Continuing Care Assistants
  • Establishing a $500 Senior Care Grant to support seniors living independently at home
  • Improving prevention services, including for children and people with chronic illnesses

Read the full PC platform for health care.

Reforming health care in Nova Scotia won’t be easy. Every day, we hear about Nova Scotians struggling to get the care they need. It’s a stressful time for patients and health-care providers alike.

With more than 75,000 Nova Scotians on a waitlist for a family doctor, hospital emergency departments are scrambling to fill the void – in the midst of their own staffing challenges.

These problems have been building for decades and solutions may not come easily. However, there are early signs that this government is taking steps to eliminate the red tape and other barriers that make it hard to recruit doctors to the province.

To learn more about the challenges, Premier Houston and Minister Thompson are touring the province Sept. 20 to 23 to meet with doctors, nurses and other health-care providers.

Listening to the people working on the front lines of health care – the people who experience it day-to-day – is the best way to find opportunities for positive change in the system.

Doctors Nova Scotia looks forward to working with Premier Houston and his government to advance critical commitments, viewing physicians as allies and looking to them for advice, guidance and support as we all work toward improving our health-care system.

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