NOTE: The following is an op-ed piece from Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine
We have long heard calls for redesigning Nova Scotia’s health-care system, and that’s exactly what we have been working toward for the past three years. We know there are improvements to be made in access to and quality of care.
The types of changes needed, if done well, will take time.
In order to have success, we need to involve doctors in discussions about how health care is planned, resourced, and delivered across this province. They are essential partners who bring valuable expertise and insights into how the system works and how it can change for the better.
And yet I know many doctors have not felt adequately engaged, specifically as contract negotiations were underway over the past year.
I am pleased the new four-year agreements Doctors Nova Scotia negotiated on behalf of doctors were recently ratified, and by a strong margin. Eighty per cent and 87 per cent of those who voted were in favour of each of the agreements.
These contracts were reached after a tremendous amount of time discussing things like recruitment, innovation, compensation, etc. And while no negotiated contract is perfect, I believe these ones move us closer to our goals.
That’s why it deeply concerns me that some doctors who may be dissatisfied are pointing out only what they see as problems with the final result, and not acknowledging the progress that has been made.
Many Nova Scotians may be interested to know some of what is included in the agreements with doctors that will directly impact access to care:
–- $2.8 million is earmarked for new family doctors during the life of the agreement, and $2.3 million for new specialists
–- $10 million will improve access to primary care with new collaborative care practices that bring together doctors, nurse practitioners and other health providers. Collaborative practices are also an important recruitment tool
–- $3 million is provided so doctors can provide care in situations that may not require face-to-face consultations. Nova Scotia is the very first province to include this in its contract with doctors and we will continue to work with them to find other opportunities for innovation
These investments complement the ongoing work with the Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre to establish a provincial health system that is well planned and collaborative in its approach.
Since becoming minister of Health and Wellness in 2013, I have personally met with more than 400 doctors across the province on various issues. I know they have their patients’ best interests at heart and have important perspectives to share.
There is a strong commitment to opening the lines of communication with doctors in order to find and implement workable solutions to our health-care system challenges so that our system can sufficiently respond to the changing health-care needs of our population.