New Brunswick has the second-highest rate of people admitted to hospital acute-care beds in Canada, according to new statistics.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information says provinces such as British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Ontario have admission rates of around 7,000 people for every 100,000 in the population.

New Brunswick has a rate of 9,796 patients, second only to Saskatchewan.

'This is a government that promised a provincial health plan and we're still waiting for that.' —Donald Arseneault, Liberal health critic

Dr. Peter Fraser is a semi-retired family physician. He blames inadequate access to care for chronic-disease sufferers and unhealthy lifestyles.

"My friends who come visiting from other parts of Canada often remark on how many obese people they see," he said.

"We don't have the community-based resources to keep people out of the hospital and we don't have the long-term preventive strategies that we really need to try and prevent some of these chronic illnesses."

Anthony Knight of the New Brunswick Medical Society says better care provided earlier keeps people out of hospital

"Adding more resources to primary care today will save you money down the road in terms of acute-care hospitalizations," he said.

"We need to reduce that rate. It's a very high rate and it's a rate that is a cost to the system. If we could have a more comprehensive plan for dealing with primary care in the long run, you will see that number reduced."

What's the plan?

Liberal health critic Donald Arseneault agreed, but asked what the plan is to deal with the problem.

"This is a government that promised a provincial health plan and we're still waiting for that," he said.

Health Minister Hugh Flemming declined CBC's request for an interview.

The numbers of admissions overall have gone down by 35 per cent since 1995. Critics say that can be linked directly to fewer hospital beds with the closure of small hospitals, not to fewer people in need.