NDP health plan would keep ERs open
Last Updated: Thursday, May 7, 2009 | 12:10 PM ET
Nova Scotia's New Democrats say they will keep hospital emergency departments open, if elected.
NDP Leader Darrell Dexter made the campaign promise Thursday, saying a New Democrat government would also hire an adviser to oversee emergency services.
Some rural hospitals have been forced to shut down their emergency rooms periodically because of a shortage of staff.
A million-dollar government report released more than a year ago called for an immediate review of emergency departments across Nova Scotia.
At the time, the Rodney MacDonald government said closing emergency rooms was not an option.
Dexter said Thursday he agrees.
"I mean, how are you going to attract economic development dollars into rural parts of the province if you don't have basic emergency services? I think you have to look at it broadly. You have to look at it from both our commitment to health care in the province and our commitment to economic development provincewide," said Dexter.
The NDP promises to find the money to keep the emergency room at the Cobequid Community Health Centre open 24 hours a day. The centre in Lower Sackville currently closes overnight.
Dexter said an emergency care adviser would be useful. This person could be a doctor or other health worker, and would be paid about $100,000 more than what they make now, he added.
"Right now the district health authorities are all acting on their own. This person would co-ordinate and make the best use of all the staff, the pool of resources that exist," he said.
Health-care workers needed: McNeil
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil isn't impressed with the NDP plan.
McNeil isn't revealing details of his party's plan yet. But he said Liberals want to ensure there are health-care workers available when and where they are needed.
"It won't be looking to hire another co-ordinator. That's not what Nova Scotians are looking for when it comes to health care. They're looking to access the health-care professionals," McNeil said.