RESTORING LOCAL VOICE
PC leader says island will be heard on health care.
Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie says if his party forms the next provincial government it will see that the local voice is restored in the health-care system.
Baillie said his government would ensure decisions about health care are made closer to home, during a campaign stop in Sydney Monday.
“Health care is in crisis and Cape Breton is at the centre of it,” Baillie said in an interview. “There are people without a family doctor who need help, there are people waiting for years for basic surgery. We’ve actually lost critical mass in health care in Cape Breton and the doctors themselves are now speaking up.”
Recently, hundreds of people packed a high school gymnasium in Sydney Mines for a doctor-led rally raising concerns about the state of local health care.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil himself has acknowledged that doctors say the local voice has been lost in the transition to a provincewide health administration, something he said a reelected Liberal government will work to reverse.
“How many times do 600 people have to show up at a community meeting before they get the government’s attention?” Baillie said. “To me, things went off the rails when all the decisions got moved to Halifax. It’s obvious we need local input and local decision-making to get health care back on track here in Cape Breton and in the other regions of Nova Scotia.
Under his party’s plan, zone managers would be moved into regional hospitals with decisionmaking authority and accountability, with community health boards providing oversight for regional management. Baillie said those measures don’t cost anything while streamlining the system.
Prior to the establishment of the Nova Scotia Health Authority, the Liberals had indicated community health boards would have a greater voice but Baillie said that hasn’t occurred.
“What we got was overcentralization in Halifax and bureaucracy by the backdoor,” Baillie said.
After spending a couple of days on the campaign trail in Cape Breton, the PC leader said, based on what people said to him, health care is “a giant issue” in Cape Breton, saying he met many seniors without family doctors and others waiting for surgery while suffering chronic pain.
Baillie also said a Tory government will once again allow hospital foundations to match their fundraising efforts to local needs. They also previously committed to spending $13.5 million on “urgent doctor recruitment,” he said, of both specialists and family doctors. When asked how that would be allocated, Baillie said Cape Breton would rank at the top based on need.