Tories, NDP target health care
The Tories and NDP made their pitches Wednesday to Nova Scotians weary of healthcare irritants, promising to address doctor shortages and emergency room overcrowding.
Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie announced $13.5 million over four years to recruit more doctors, which he said would significantly reduce shortages in a province where as many as 100,000 people have no family doctor.
“We need more doctors now: Family doctors to get people to the front of the line and advocate for them in our system, and more specialists like surgeons to see that they get the surgeries that they need in a timely way,’’ he said.
NDP Leader Gary Burrill, meanwhile, promised to address what he called “hallway medicine,’’ and put an end to emergency department overcrowding if his party is elected May 30.
“Patients are being left waiting in hallways, being double bunked in single rooms, made to wait hours in the ER or arrive at the hospital to find their ER closed,’’ said Burrill.
As he unveiled a new program for pre-schoolers, Liberal Premier Stephen McNeil said one of the health-care system pressures has been that his government inherited Halifax facilities that were in poor condition.
“Part of the issue when we came into government was the actual state of some of our infrastructure here in Halifax which had been left without the kind of attention it required,’’ he said.
“We’ve been working very hard that we provide the services in the right health-care environment and that when our health-care workers go to work they have the proper supports in the proper environment.’’
Last month Doctors Nova Scotia said the province would need to recruit 100 doctors a year for the next decade to deal with retirements and an aging population with increasingly complex medical needs.
In last week’s proposed budget, which died when the May 30 vote was called, the Liberals promised $2.4 million in annual funding to hire an additional 50 doctors a year. They also promised $3.7 million more for additional orthopedic surgeries.
In a news release Wednesday, Burrill said emergency department overcrowding had become “unacceptable.’’
He pointed to a report released in March by the Nova Scotia General Employees Union entitled “Code Critical.’’ The report tracked a rise in socalled code census incidents at Halifax’s largest hospital, during which the emergency ward is declared unsafe and patients are sent to in-patient units.
The union made 15 recommendations, including the need to publicly document code census calls and treatment wait times, and to revisit policies on staffing levels when overcrowding occurs.