For a province of Nova Scotia’s size, with just 940,000 people, it should seem staggering that the province is spending more than $49 million on health care administrators at a time when a lot of emergency rooms face temporary closures, and many people face long waits for potentially life-saving treatments and surgeries.
Over the years, successive governments have tried to come up with the magic bullet to cure what ails the health-care system.
There have been numerous commissions, committees and reports and more than enough recommendations and suggestions on how to provide the health-care needs of an aging, mostly rural-based population without breaking the bank.
There have been some good ideas – such as the Better Care Sooner plan that has created collaborative emergency centres in communities where keeping emergency rooms open around the clock has been a challenge.
However, when you consider there are 399 administrators with salaries topping the $100,000 mark in 10 health authorities, it has to make most Nova Scotians scratch their heads in amazement at just how top heavy the system has become. The million-dollar question is does it have to be?
PC health critic Chris d’Entremont said late last week the money being spent on health-care administration could be better spent than on 10 CEOs, 62 vice-presidents and hundreds of managers – that’s $2.6 million on CEOs alone. Are we getting the bang for our buck?
The province has to have the ability to attract the best candidates to run its health-care system and there’s no doubt these people don’t come cheap. We can’t expect those people who run our hospitals to work for minimum wage, but we can expect them to squeeze every dollar they can out of the system. Unfortunately, the opposite has occurred in that we have overburdened the system with so many managers and administrators that it’s threatening the capsize the entire ship.
Government needs to take a long look at its health-care system from the top down and it needs to be prepared to make what could be some unpopular decisions – such as going back to the regional health-care model that was scrapped more than a decade ago by a previous Conservative administration.
At the same time, it also needs to reassure Nova Scotians that the system will be there for them when it’s needed most because as long as a large chunk of the budget is going to pay for the top executives any attempt to fix things at the grassroots level is going to fail.