New website aims to help Nova Scotians get information about the health care system

A new website will provide health care information, such as waiting lists for long-term care and information on recruiting physicians in Nova Scotia.

The Action for Health website aims to help Nova Scotians understand how government tracks and measures progress in improving the system for patients and health care providers.

The indicators are available at https://novascotia.ca/actionforhealth.

Information on the website will include:

  • number of recruitments of family physicians, nurse practitioners and registered nurses
  • percentage of Nova Scotians seeking a primary care provider through the Need a Family Practice Registry
  • waiting lists for home care and long-term care admissions
  • the percentage of hospital admissions for people whose complex needs could have been better met by primary health care
  • patient experience with hospitals
  • employee satisfaction levels
  • ambulance unloading time
  • daily information on ER visits and hospital admissions, discharges and surgeries
  • hospital occupancy percentages and trends over time.

“Open and Transparent”

Fixing the healthcare system, which is plagued by long wait times, overcrowded emergency departments and a doctor waiting list of around 95,000 people, was the main focus of the platform. the Progressive Conservative government’s campaign before it wins the fall election.

The Conservatives’ first budget in March allocated $5.7 billion to health care spending.

“We will be as open and transparent about the issues as we are about the steps we are going to take to address them and that is what sharing data is for,” Health Minister Michelle Thompson said Friday at a conference. press announcing website. .

“Make no mistake, improvement will not happen overnight, it will be difficult and it will take time and it will require significant investment but we are determined to get there.”

As a registered nurse working in critical care, public health and long-term care, Thompson said she knows firsthand how each part of the healthcare system is interdependent.

“When people don’t have family medicine it increases pressure on emergency departments, lack of home care or long-term care beds means more people are waiting in hospital beds, and recruitment and retention (of health workers) impacts everyone. of this one.

Our health care system is complex and pressure in one part of the system impacts all the others,”

“Change will not happen overnight. But by sharing this information now, we are holding ourselves accountable to ensure that change happens and that the system improves in the areas that matter most to Nova Scotians.

A new health information website will include a daily dashboard that will provide insight into the health care system, such as emergency department numbers and hospital occupancy. – Case

Progress Tracking

The website will reflect the government’s progress tracking in specific areas such as its goal to hire more than 350 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses at Nova Scotia Health and IWK Health, starting in January and September 2022.

The government also plans to recruit 160 new doctors between April 2021 and March 2022, give more licensed practical nurses the opportunity to become registered nurses and expand VirtualCareNS to enable more people to access primary care online. .

Other goals that will be tracked on the website:

  • launch a recruitment campaign for nursing staff
  • cut red tape for doctors
  • Spending $57 million to attract, hire and train more continuing care assistants, including offering free tuition to students and opening beds for seniors faster
  • increase the salaries of nursing aides in the public continuing care sector by up to 23%
  • set up a paramedical working group to develop shared solutions
  • implement the direct triage policy across the province, which will allow paramedics to spend less time waiting in the hospital with low-risk patients and more time available to respond to emergencies
  • creating the Health Equity Partnership Table comprising the province, Nova Scotia Department of Health and IWK Health; its first meeting will take place in July and will focus on the development of a health equity framework, measures and indicators
  • open a new recovery support center in Dartmouth for people seeking help with addictions or gambling
  • open the province’s first acute mental health day hospital at the QEII Health Sciences Center in Halifax.

Opposition: Absence of benchmarks

Opposition health critics praised the expansion of public information about the health system, but said the website failed to present timetables and benchmarks for achieving government goals.

“It’s important to know where we are so we can see where we need to go,” said Susan Leblanc of the NPD, who said the daily dashboard that will provide a real-time daily snapshot of system operations health such as emergency services. numbers are particularly useful.

But although the website has some baseline information, Leblanc said, “It doesn’t really have any timeframe information and that was one of the things when they released the plan in quotes for fixing health care was one of the things that was really missing. …. It’s good to have goals but let’s see how we’re going to get there. “

MPP Susan Leblanc welcomed the new health care system website, but said more information is needed on benchmarks and timelines.  - Francois Campbell / File
MPP Susan Leblanc welcomed the new health care system website, but said more information is needed on benchmarks and timelines. – Francois Campbell / File

Liberal MP Braedon Clark also welcomed the expansion of public data, but added “the proof is in the pudding. … As the opposition, we will be able to assess much better than in the past whether things are improving or not, which of course has been the promise of the government since the campaign.”

Clark echoed Leblanc’s concerns about the lack of benchmarks in the “progress” section of the website.

“We know for example what the occupancy of hospitals could be, we now know what some waiting times could be, but we don’t really know what the government wants them to be and what they should be, so that’s a gap that I think needs to be filled. as soon as possible because if we don’t have goals and benchmarks to measure progress, I think we can lose sight of the forest through the trees.

During a technical briefing with Ministry of Health staff on Friday morning, the cost of the project was not available. Journalists were told that some progress indicators are not yet in place, such as ambulance response times and the recruitment of continuing care assistants.

Regarding updates on solutions to healthcare challenges, 27 actions are in progress, three are complete, 92 are in progress and one has not yet started.

For example, “ongoing” actions include renovating and building more than 2,500 single rooms over three years in long-term care facilities, and reducing waiting lists by performing an additional 2,500 surgeries. over the next 12 months.

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