The top New Brunswick candidate to lead the province's trauma unit has backed out of consideration, and the Opposition Tories claim the other top prospect has accepted another job.

'I do not know how many times the Opposition has to try to bring politics into this trauma system. ... There is an independent process, and we will follow that.' — Health Minister Michael Murphy

Dr. Andrew Trenholm, one of 25 trauma experts in Canada, was one of two candidates for the job to lead the new provincial trauma system, but he dropped out this week.

Nathalie Godbout, a Saint John lawyer who has been assisting Trenholm with the process, confirmed he has withdrawn his name. She said the difficult decision was made after careful consideration, but she declined to elaborate.

Progressive Conservative MLA Margaret-Ann Blaney, the Opposition's health critic, said in question period on Wednesday that the only other candidate has accepted another job in Quebec.

And now, she's worried that after about 18 months of searching for a medical director, the province is back to Square 1.

"A comprehensive trauma system needs to be in place and yes, I mean lives will be at stake and lives will be at risk until we have this in place, yes," Blaney said.

Health Minister Michael Murphy did not get drawn into debate over who will be chosen to head the trauma system.

"I do not know how many times the Opposition has to try to bring politics into this trauma system. We were asked to follow the reports, which we have always done. We have never interfered with the selection of a head for a provincial program," Murphy said.

"There is an independent process, and we will follow that."

Furlong says interview still scheduled

While the Tories are raising questions over who will lead the trauma system, the person in charge of picking the new chair is telling a different story.

Dr. Dennis Furlong, a former Tory health minister and chair of the trauma system advisory committee, said there's still one candidate, who is scheduled to be interviewed next week.

"He has not given us any indication he will not be there. We fully expect the interview to proceed next Thursday," Furlong said.

Furlong won't say who the candidate is, but said he is highly qualified and bilingual, and could be hired within weeks.