The Premier was met with high emotions this morning as he announced the closure of two hospitals in Cape Breton – Northside General and New Waterford.
The Government scrambled to position this as an investment in healthcare. Nova Scotians have a right to question the sincerity behind this message.
“My caucus colleagues Alfie MacLeod, Keith Bain and our Health Critic Eddie Orrell, along with their constituents and the medical professionals who care for them, have loudly demanded a plan for these hospitals from this government for years,” said Tim Houston, MLA for Pictou East and PC Leadership Candidate. “Nova Scotians have seen this government bungle healthcare delivery. They have a right to be anxious about this announcement.”
Houston has been vocal throughout his leadership campaign around the need to be more pro-active in addressing some of Nova Scotia’s most pressing health care issues – such as chronic illness and lack of mental health supports. He has called for the creation of a Department of Addictions and Mental Health, and the expansion of the INSPIRED model which brings together a team of professionals to provide education and support to people with COPD and their families in their homes to help them cope better with COPD. Houston has also called for a Standing Committee on Health that will allow for more input from Nova Scotians on how government makes health care decision.
Dr. Stephanie Langley is a family practitioner in North Sydney. For the last few years she has been the site lead for the Northside Hospital. She says that she and her colleagues are disheartened by the lack of consultation that took place in advance of this decision.
“It’s incredibly frustrating that we have been asking for help with our healthcare delivery for years and yet were not consulted on the massive decision to shut down two hospitals. As a result, government is seriously underestimating the impact this will have on our communities - communities that are built around these hospitals,” said Dr. Langley. “For example there are 13 family doctors who will no longer provide acute care medicine - we will lose that skill set.”
Houston believes that government needs to make bold and innovative decisions when it comes to revamping our healthcare system, but that those decisions must come with accountability and transparency. There was no costing associated with today’s announcement, and no detailed timeline. A year after the QEII redevelopment was announced, Nova Scotians still don’t know what it is going to cost or when it is going to be completed.
“As with our education system, when it comes to strategic planning and long-term vision, this Government continues to fail Nova Scotians in fixing our broken and out-dated healthcare model,” said Houston. “Their plan seems to be running around frantically putting out fires, many of which they’ve started. Nova Scotians should expect better. They deserve better.”