Every plan needs specifics
Dr. Jim Smith was correct when he predicted the Tory's health report would be "a weak and flaccid failure for the health care system."
The Liberal health critic was right because what Health Minister Jamie Muir and committee chairman David Rippey failed to do was stand behind the basic premise underlying the elusive "clinical footprint." -more-
Charting a course without a compass
There is something fundamentally wrong with the way health care is managed in Nova Scotia. The much anticipated "clinical footprint" was supposed to address the flaws in the system and chart a course for successful management of the whole province's health care woes. But whoever is at the helm is either unable to read the chart or does not believe the navigator.
The footprint has been released to the CEOs of the health authorities along with an estimated budget. But it is no longer referred to as the master plan for health care in the province but rather a guideline for best practices.
As with just about every plan released by the provincial government since being elected, there is probably some very bad news hidden in the clinical footprint. So instead of following the recommendations of their two-year-old study, Captain John Hamm and First Mate Jamie Muir have subtly altered the course which has been plotted for them.
The only question remaining is when the cuts come in the spring will there be another health care mutiny, or will the government make it to a safe harbour in the upcoming storm of discontent.
Or will Hamm once again be forced to pirate money from everyone to chart a course without a compass.
--The Truro Daily News -- February 5, 2001
Where is the Hamm government's health-care blueprint, due last spring? Good question, and the answer is eagerly awaited not only by inquiring Grit health critic Jim Smith but the people who work in hospital administration and nine district health bodies.
Health Minister Jamie Muir says he has seen a draft of the plan and it's near completion. Sure, it's better to be right than on time. However, the months of waiting have spurred rumours of more bed closings and continued confusion on budgetary decisions at the ground level. And that's an unhealthy situation.
--Editiorial, The Daily News -- January 11, 2001
A case of malpractice
In June, retired Liberal leader Russell MacLellan revealed Tory plans to downgrade seven hospitals, including Fishermen's Memorial Hospital. The government denied this plan, saying the Liberals were engaged in scare tactics. As it turned out, the Liberals were right. There were plans to downgrade Fishermen's to a clinic.
The public was outraged, as they had a right to be, over the lack of information and consultation. After a community outcry, the government recanted and found the money to put back into Fishermen's. The issue didn't end there, however. Throughout the summer we were told that more health care cuts were coming. There were no specific details, only speculation that the new District Health Authority, consisting of South Shore Regional, Fishermen's and Queens General, was bracing for cuts of $4.7 million. Just where these cuts were going to be made and how they would impact on the level of health care in this district, was not immediately known, but we were promised that information very soon. In early October we were promised the details within two weeks. We are still waiting.
Here it is the middle of November and we still don't know how these cuts will be implemented or what impact they will have. In four or five months, a new budget will undoubtly bring more cuts. How can anyone deal with future reductions without knowing the current state of affairs?
Someone, somewhere, must know what cuts we're facing here. If so, it's time to share the details. The public has a right to know.
--Vernon Oickle, The Bridgewater Bulletin -- November 15, 2000
Nova Scotians are now seeing John Hamm's priorities.
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February 9, 2001
Dr. Jim Smith, MLA
Liberal Health Critic
BEAN COUNTERS IN CONTROL OF HEALTH(Halifax, NS) Finance Minister Neil LeBlanc s theory of relativity when it comes to health care spending should qualify him as a candidate for the Flat Earth Society says Liberal Health Critic Dr. Jim Smith. LeBlanc told the Chamber of Commerce today that health spending will remain "relatively flat" in the coming year in order to address Nova Scotia s financial problems.
Smith said that today Neil LeBlanc confirmed that the health of Nova Scotians is in the hands of accountants, not health care providers.
"Because of things like inflation, costs are always increasing. Therefore, any time a department receives static funding from one year to the next, the effect is a reduction in resources," said Smith.
"In actual fact, the department will face a $47 million shortfall. The district health authorities are not only going to have to absorb their $35 million deficits from last year, but they will also have to do without the $12 million one time bailout they received in June," Smith added.
"On top of the $47 million shortfall, the new district health authorities will almost certainly face rising costs for heating fuel, negotiated wage increases, and inflation, which will mean real deficits that will result in further cuts to front line health care."
During the last election Tory leader John Hamm promised to hire new nurses and open hospital beds across Nova Scotia if elected. Listen to John Hamm's Election Promises
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