Patient care at risk under Liberal leader’s revised concept for hospital administration, he says
TRURO – Lagging in the polls and with only eight days to go before the Oct. 8 election, Premier Darrell Dexter is staying the course on his campaign trail theme.
© HARRY SULLIVAN - TRURO DAILY NEWS
Premier Darrell Dexter in Truro on Saturday.
“I’m totally focused on getting our message out to people,” he told the Truro Daily News, during a stop in Truro on Saturday. “We’ve got a great story of a caring and compassionate government over the past four years, we have great candidates and I think we have a good message. So I am just going to keep pushing it right through until election day.”
The latest numbers from a Corporate Research Associates poll commissioned by a provincial paper, showed the Liberals favoured at 56 per cent of decided and leaning voters while the NDP were at 27 per cent. The Progressive Conservatives were showed at 16 per cent.
Of the party leaders themselves, Liberal Stephen McNeil was shown at 40 per cent, Dexter at 19 per cent and PC Jamie Baillie at 13 per cent.
But Dexter said he was concentrating more on delivering his own party’s message for the remainder of the campaign than poll numbers while leaving the ultimate outcome in the hands of the voters.
“Those decisions are left to the public, he said. “I’ve got to focus on my job … I am going to push it through to the end with as much energy and vigor as I can.”
But the premier also questioned the validity of some of the information that voters’ poll opinions may be based on.
“I think that you have a message that is being delivered by the Liberal campaign which is just false. It’s based on falsehoods and I don’t think they’re being held accountable for that,” he said. “We’re doing our best to hold them accountable and to say what people are being told is false. And I am one of those people who believes you can’t build anything constructive on falsehoods and so we’re going to keep pointing that out.”
While in the Hubtown, Dexter met with nurses, other front-line health workers, volunteer board members and mayors Bill Mills of Truro and Bob Taylor of Colchester County to convey his interpretation of how McNeil’s concept of a centralized, “super bureaucracy” will cause “chaos and harm” to patient care.
“We’re hearing from front-line health care workers about their concern around the centralization of decision making in health boards and how communities are going to lose their voice if the district health authorities are forced to amalgamate in one super centralized bureaucracy,” he said.
“We’ve got a great story of a caring and compassionate government over the past four years, we have great candidates and I think we have a good message. So I am just going to keep pushing it right through until election day.” Premier Darrell Dexter
“The last time those kind of amalgamations took place we saw the closure of 1,600 beds. We saw 1,000 nurses forced out of the system. We actually saw administration grow rather than be reduced and that is actually the experience they had in Alberta and the experience they had in New Brunswick. There’s nothing in it for the community.”
Dexter said that under the past four years of NDP government, administration costs have decreased by 23 per cent, 400 more doctors are working in the province, 1,000 new long-term care beds have been created (with 1,100 more on the way) and emergency room closures have been reduced.
Wayne Thomas, a representative with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, who also met with the premier in Truro, echoed Dexter’s position on the amalgamation of health boards.
“There really hasn’t been any independent voices supporting the reduction of this health care model,” he said, of the current system.
“Anything that reduces the number of district health authorities from the current model of nine DHAs (district health authorities) and the IWK to less than that, will mean the loss of the delivery of health care services or the authority of those services within these communities.”
With a health care budget in Nova Scotia of $3.9 billion reducing administration levels to save “say $10 million,” translates into about 22 hours of care in the whole scheme of the total system,” Thomas said.
“So we think we’re far better off continuing on the path that we’ve been at (by cutting administration levels more slowly though an evolving system).
“When the authority for those services goes to a centralized group like Halifax, than communities will have less control over their own health care issues,” he said. “So the authority that a district has right now we think will be lost if the district health authorities are reduced and those decisions are made in Halifax.”