Tories, NDP tar­get health care

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton / Province -

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.

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