Atlantic Canadians are concerned about the state of health care in the region and tend to feel the system hasn't seen significant improvement in recent years, according to a new poll.

The poll, which surveyed more than 3,000 Canadians last month, is a part of a report from the Canadian Medical Association.

Dr. Jeff Turnbull, the president of the CMA, said Canadians were united in their calls for fundamental change with greater focus on long-term or home-based care, Pharmacare and better health prevention strategies.

But Turnbull said the report suggests Atlantic Canadians have stronger feelings on some issues.

"We're one of the highest groups outside of the prairies that said that they had the highest prevalence of serious concerns in the health-care system that would lead to them either filing a complaint or moving to get their health care in another jurisdiction," Turnbull said.

More than people in other provinces, the report suggests Atlantic Canadians also feel the system was the same or worse than in 2004.

Turnbull said that's likely related to ongoing emergency room staffing challenges faced in the region.

Health funding 'bought us time'

The report also asked Canadians about their views on reshaping the health system.

In 2004, former prime minister Paul Martin called the premiers to Ottawa to hammer out a health-care accord that transferred more money to the provinces to help pay for the health system.

At the time, Martin billed the health accord as a "fix for a generation."

That agreement expires in 2014 and must be renegotiated by the federal and provincial governments. The Conservatives said in the federal election the provinces would continue to receive health-funding increases in the new accord.

The CMA president said if anything this year's report by the association shows that throwing more money at the system hasn't worked.

"So that [health-care] accord that was designed to transfer money that led to change that would last for a generation," Turnbull said.

"In fact, if anything, respondents have said there's been no change or it's worsened. So it bought us time, it didn't buy us change. And the lesson from that is that the 2014 accord has to be an accord focused on change, not just transfer of money."

The CMA report said those people questioned in the survey were more divided about whether the federal-provincial health-care agreement should take a national or jurisdictional approach.

The poll indicated 52 per cent of respondents preferred an agreement that is national in scope with all provinces agreeing on how the system will be funded, delivered and made accountable.

The poll also found 49 per cent of respondents would prefer a model where provinces and territories receive a certain amount of funding for health care to spend as they see fit.

The CMA poll reported 46 per cent of respondents felt a portion of the funding given to the provincial or territorial governments should be held back until performance targets are met.

Ipsos Reid conducted the poll between July 5 and July 8, using an online survey of 1,026 Canadian adults and a telephone survey of 1,000 Canadian adults on July 6 and 7.

The results of the telephone survey are considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Many Atlantic Canadians also indicated in the report that they had experienced problems in the health system that made them either want to seek care in another province or lodge a complaint.

The Office of Nova Scotia's ombudsman says the number of health concerns brought to its office in 2010-2011 was up about 20 per cent.

Many of those complaints focused on long term care placement, funding and home care.