Health care has never been more important
New Brunswickers face many challenges when trying to access health-care services in our province.
Our health system continues to struggle with a shortage of health-care professionals and hospital beds and some of the longest wait times for surgeries and emergency care in the country. With one of the oldest populations in Canada, New Brunswick also has some of the highest rates of chronic health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. More than 30,000 New Brunswickers are without a primary care physician, and there is a critical shortage of mental health and addictions resources.
Physicians are on the front lines of health care and understand the challenges patients are facing.
As New Brunswickers head to the polls during a global pandemic, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) knows that health care has simply never been more important.
The NBMS is advocating to all political parties for bold changes to improve access to health care in New Brunswick.
Increase health-care funding
Health budgets should be focused on meeting the immediate needs of the population while adequately building for the future of health care in New Brunswick. The cost of health care is rising and as our population ages and maintaining critical health services will become more expensive. A six per cent increase in health spending would account for inflation, increased cost of senior care, and overall system growth.
Increased health-care spending should:
- ensure each community’s basic needs are appropriately resourced;
- allow for integration of services for improved senior and community-based care;
- help facilitate the creation of a robust primary-care system that contributes to exceptional care, including virtual solutions where suitable.
Create a health human resource strategy
More than 30,000 New Brunswickers are without a family physician and a shortage of health professionals has contributed to temporary closures of hospital departments across New Brunswick. Our province needs a robust health human resource strategy to improve recruitment and retention of physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals, who all play an integral role in optimal patient care.
A health human resource strategy should include:
- a centralized health human resource management framework including a holistic plan for current and future needs for all regulated health-care professionals, built and maintained in collaboration with regional health authorities, government, and health-care professionals;
- a commitment to hire 50 new family physicians and 25 new specialists per year for the next four years, for a total of 200 additional family physicians and 100 additional specialists;
- a review of interdepartmental funding, which may include additional seats for medical programs and schools.
Improve primary care access
With strong primary health services, patients can avoid emergency room and walk in-clinic visits, focus on preventative care, and remain within their community. We need to strengthen our primary care system and increase access to services.
Improvements to primary health care access should include:
- integrating allied health professionals within physician practices including 200 nurses in physician practices over the next four years;
- growing the Family Medicine New Brunswick collaborative family practice model;
- creating a new provincial eHealth strategy, enhancing walk-in clinic practices, and improving access to reproductive services and health care for LGBTQ2I+ patients.
COVID-19 pandemic response
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging across all sectors. It is critical that societal, educational, and economic needs are balanced with the safety of New Brunswickers.
A COVID-19 response should include:
- robust testing across all communities, and an adequate supply of personal protective equipment for all health-care providers;
- the development of a sustainable plan for virtual care through and post COVID-19;
- greater local physician involvement in clinical planning to support the governmentʼs pandemic task force through future phases of COVID-19.
What can YOU do?
- Health care is critical to all of us. You can help influence health system improvements by:
- Contacting your local candidates with your concerns, or by directing them to this page so that they may learn more about improvements that physicians want to see.
- Write letters to your local newspaper addressing your concerns.
- Stay informed. Read, listen to, or watch local news for more information on what is happening in your community and around the province. Contact your local candidates or their party’s leader to voice your concerns.
- Vote on or before Sept. 14, 2020. For details on how to safety vote during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit Election New Brunswick’s website.