**** PREMIER’S OFFICE–
Providers Speak Up For Health Care, Patients – Op-Ed
NOTE: The following is an op-ed from Premier Tim Houston
Over the last few days, Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson, our health leadership team and I have been touring the province, meeting with front-line health-care workers to hear their ideas and solutions for improving health care in this province.
During our visits, doctors, nurses, paramedics and others expressed both frustration and optimism. They are passionate about their work and want to do their best for their patients, but they need more support. What’s very clear is that we all want the same thing – for Nova Scotians to have access to the best care possible.
Those working in health care have a unique perspective on our system, the problems within it and ideas for change. They spoke passionately about patient care, recruitment and retention, the need for more local decision-making and better technology, among other concerns.
Our health-care system has not deteriorated – nor will it be fixed – overnight. Some of the things we have heard are short-term ideas that we are working on right now, while others need larger-scale change and will take longer.
Many of the health-care providers we spoke with mentioned our ambulance system as a key area for improvement. Suggestions to free up front-line staff from non-emergency tasks like routine transfers is something we can do in the short-term. This will alleviate pressure and ensure our paramedics can focus on the emergency care people need quickly when they call 911.
Today, Sept. 23, I announced the expansion of VirtualCareNS for anyone on the Need a Family Practice Registry across the province. We have heard from patients and providers that access to care is a priority, and this expansion is a first step in ensuring every Nova Scotian has access to a form of primary care.
The last 18 months have not been easy. Our health-care workers have put their patients first and worked tirelessly to protect us all from COVID-19. The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone working in health care, which makes me even more appreciative of those who have taken the time to talk with us and share their concerns and ideas. I thank each of them.
We all feel the urgency to support our health-care professionals, and ultimately, Nova Scotians. This tour was an important first step in our efforts to heal our health-care system. Our work is just beginning.