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New Brunswick’s doctors seek more details on “efficiencies” from hospitals

The President of the New Brunswick Medical Society is seeking details from the Alward Government on the recently announced plan to save $236 million in “efficiencies”.

“We see the overall numbers, but we have no details on what the impacts on patients would be,” Dr Robert Desjardins said. “These are huge numbers up for discussion: almost 10% of our health system budget; 4.4 million staff hours; a productivity increase of 30-40%. We want to ensure doctors are at the table when this is discussed.”

Last summer, the Medical Society offered a submission to the Alward Government after they asked for input on a provincial health plan. As the one-year anniversary of the government’s consultation approaches, doctors have seen no sign of a thoughtful, evidence-based plan on transforming the health system – but have read lots of announcements about cuts.

“The Alward Government’s recent emphasis has not been on patient care – it’s been about money,” said Dr Desjardins. “While we wait for a real plan to address the real cost drivers in the system like our ageing population, doctors will continue to stand up for patients and ensure they are at the centre of any reforms.”

A recent national report stated that New Brunswick’s health system is already third in the nation for value for money. This is despite the poor health indicators of our population, which include being among the oldest, heaviest, most chronically ill province in the country.  Other national data shows New Brunswick’s hospital system costs far more than the national average for hospital care, but other areas of the health system are below the average. Finally, last week’s Conference Board of Canada report shows New Brunswick has one of only three provinces in the country with an ‘A’ grade for health system performance, despite poor population lifestyles. Clearly, more details need to be provided to help patients and doctors understand the government’s plan.

Dr Desjardins pointed to the government’s repeated statements that coming health cuts won’t impact any patients. “We’re interested to see how the Alward Government could cut one sixth of the hospital budget and not impact patient care. We’re waiting to provide our input on the “efficiencies” while we are kept waiting for a real health plan.”

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Founded in 1867, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) is the professional association representing all physicians in New Brunswick. It is a provincial division of the Canadian Medical Association. Its twin goals are to represent and serve physicians, and advocate for the health of New Brunswickers. Over a hundred New Brunswick doctors sit on our Board and Committees, representing the 1600 doctors in the province.

Media contact: Andrew MacLean, New Brunswick Medical Society: amaclean@nbms.nb.ca
Contact for spokesperson availability.