The Health Department is taking stock of its hospitals across Nova Scotia and how much work they can handle as it looks ahead to what kind of facility will replace the Victoria General.

Premier Stephen McNeil said Thursday the provincial review is determining what services should be moved off peninsula Halifax.

"All of that footprint has to be looked at," McNeil told reporters.

The province has already said the fifth floor of the Dartmouth General Hospital will be outfitted with eight operating rooms, and McNeil suggested other services also could be shifted to other facilities.

The Victoria General, built in 1947, has been plagued with many problems, from floods to heating shutdowns to Legionella in the pipes that makes the water unsafe for drinking. 

'Not every MRI is in Halifax'

Nova Scotians already drive often to access health care, McNeil said, such as heading to Pictou County for orthopedics. 

"Not every MRI is in Halifax. If you're a citizen of Halifax and you can get an MRI faster in Yarmouth, you're going to Yarmouth," he said. "What Nova Scotians are looking for is timely access to quality health care that they don't have to pay for."

NDP health critic Dave Wilson said Thursday he hopes the province looks at what transportation is available to patients when considering shuffling services.

"I'm not against moving things outside of the downtown core of Halifax," Wilson said. "That's a little different than saying, 'OK, it's going to be moved from Halifax to Bridgewater or Halifax to New Glasgow.'"

'All speculation'

Wilson said he's confused why the province hasn't already taken stock of what it has, given the amalgamation of health authorities and previous work done on the Victoria General file

"It's all speculation until the government actually comes forward with a full plan," Wilson said.

When that might happen is still unclear. McNeil did not have a timeline for specifics on the assessment of possible service shuffling. 

"The delivery of health care's changed," McNeil said. "If we don't think that's the case, then we're stuck in the same problems."