Nova Scotiaâ€™s new Health Minister Leo Glavine has probably been handed the most unenviable task of anyone in the new Stephen McNeil Liberal cabinet. His job will be to begin the process of a massive reorganization of the health care system in this province which includes reducing the number of district health authorities to just two - one for the IWK and one for the rest of the province. And in doing so, the ultimate goal is to realize significant savings while improving the delivery of frontline health care across the province.
The Liberal plan, outlined during the recent election campaign, was certainly a bone of contention locally with the Cumberland Health Authorityâ€™s Chairman Bruce Saunders and local family physician Dr. Brian Ferguson both voicing strong opposition. However, the Liberals have been given a solid mandate and health care reform was a cornerstone of their overall platform.
Under the plan as detailed in the party platform, there would be one provincial board with a lean executive leadership team working with four management zones that will mirror geographically, the old regional health board boundaries. Site-based management and decision making â€“ which will allow professionals on the ground to make decisions â€“ will be implemented and the role of community health boards will be strengthened. It will be interesting to see just how prepared, if at all, the government will be to deviate from its plan.
Glavine is at least moving cautiously with the process and says heâ€™s planning a provincewide tour which hopefully will include consultation with the various stakeholders. At the same time, he has one other important task to perform and that is to find a new deputy minister after Kevin McNamara was relieved of his duties.
There is little argument that our health care system is top heavy with administration considering we have 10 CEOs and 90 plus VPs and directors managing the health care system for just over 920,000 Nova Scotians. However, there are also legitimate concerns that we donâ€™t undo some of the positive developments that have taken place in health care including the highly successful collaborative emergency centres that have been established in recent months.
The new minister has his work cut out for him and his critics will be watching to see if in fact frontline health care actually improves at the end of the day.
Geoff deGannes is the past chairman of the Tantramar Radio Society. His daily commentaries can be heard on 107.9 CFTA.