Health-care leaders in Nova Scotia continue to look for ways to “fix” the system.
They met with Premier Tim Houston and Health Minister Michelle Thompson on Tuesday for the fourth health summit this year.
Houston says collaboration is key to alleviating strain on an overburdened system.
“Having everyone at the same table talking about the issues, talking about what’s possible, airing some frustrations, but getting everyone moving in the same direction is a positive thing for Nova Scotians,” he says.
Houston points to some of the supports the province has rolled out since the first summit was held in January.
“The pharmacy clinics are hugely successful,” he says. “I hear from Nova Scotians all the time who availed themself of a pharmacy clinic, had exactly the outcome they wanted, and felt good about that, and in a timely fashion.”
But Houston admits challenges remain.
“It’s a human resource issue,” he says. “Recruitment, licensing, hiring — these things are the focus and just talking about how we can support our health-care professionals.”
Various organizations attended the summit, including members from regulatory colleges, universities and unions.
The vice-president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) says good initiatives are underway, but there’s room for improvement.
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“Our members have serious issues and concerns with regard to wages,” Hugh Gillis says. “We’re facing high inflation. People are struggling to pay their mortgages and pay for groceries, but those discussions will be held at the bargaining table.”
Physiotherapists are hoping to secure public funding to help with the referral of X-rays.
“We’re working with the government, hoping to allow physiotherapists in private practice to be able to refer for diagnostic imaging,” Nova Scotia Physiotherapy Association president Monica MacDonald says. “That has been within our scope — but now getting more recognition around what is in the scope of a physiotherapist.”
Critics argue despite these discussions, not enough tangible progress is being made when more than 140,000 Nova Scotians are still on the doctor wait-list.
“When we talk to Nova Scotians around the province they want access to primary care,” NS NDP Leader Claudia Chender says. “They want to have a doctor’s office they can call, they want a team of specialists that can follow them.”
The Nova Scotia Liberals say the province still has to live up to its pledge to “fix” health care.
“We’re not hearing any announceables, which again leads us to the conclusion that in fact, this is a PR exercise,” MLA Kelly Regan says. “We’re going to do these (summits) and not have anything come out of them.”
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