By Kirk Starratt
Health authorities had to look at their budgets line-by-line to find efficiencies, says the province’s health minister.
Health minister Leo Glavine, the Kings West MLA, says the final timeline and exact structure for a proposed downsizing of health administration across the province will unfold in the 2014-2015 fiscal year. – Kirk Starratt, www.kingscountynews.ca
The Liberal government announced Jan. 17 that it had approved the budgets for the province’s nine district health authorities, which were tasked with minimizing the impact on patients and protecting the quality of care with no increase to health care funding.
Health minister Leo Glavine, the Kings West MLA, said the necessary mitigations and challenges of not having any budget increases have caused district health authority CEO’s to take a careful look to find efficiencies.
Glavine hopes that as a proposed authority restructuring gets underway, this will support a more sustainable budget and budget practices in coming years. Glavine said the commitment of health authority CEO’s and board chairs to high quality patient care is front and centre in their work everyday and they know they can’t sacrifice on the patient care side.
“We’re hoping to be able to find some savings as we reduce administration across the province and put those back into front-line health care,” Glavine said.
Glavine said he is committed to the establishment of a provincial health authority board and an IWK board by January 2015. The final timeline and exact structure for the proposed four regional management zones will unfold in 2014-2015 and the process might go a little quicker than anticipated, he said.
Glavine said that when restructuring talk is front and centre, the loss of services and reduction of staff comes to the forefront in a strong manner. However, they “see no reduction in service provision” and the goal is to maintain high quality service.
He said the Liberal government’s plan is to see that regional hospitals function as significant health delivery hubs. The government sees Yarmouth, Valley and Bridgewater as key components in a complementary system with the QEII, ensuring a high level and full complement of services.
Glavine added that there have been some preliminary discussions around midwifery. There have been some challenges as the province has worked to roll out a provincial program and provincial service standard. With regionalization, the goal is to have the service available somewhere in each region. There has to be equitable service delivery throughout the province and he sees provincial standards being much more attainable through a regional approach.
When asked for his thoughts on a request from Students Nova Scotia for a sexual assault nurse examiner in the Valley district, Glavine said government made a commitment that week to look at the Cape Breton area next. They have long asked for such a position and have good resources available.
“For a small investment, we can get that specialized service in place in a relatively short time,” Glavine said.
He said the goal is to have the service available in each region, perhaps complementing services already being provided at women’s centres.
Glavine said a number of district health authorities will be on target to meet budget this year, but others had unforeseen developments, such as doctor shortages. The authorities received $1.6 billion from the province, meaning no net budget reduction.
Government asked district health authorities and the IWK to target no increase in health care funding. The authorities were asked to focus on innovation and efficiency to provide better care within the current budget.
To watch a video of Glavine discussing health care delivery, visit www.kingscountynews.ca.