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New Brunswick’s doctors welcome NDP commitments on health care

New Brunswick’s doctors are welcoming the New Democratic Party’s commitments on health care, released yesterday in Fredericton.

“The NDP has laid out a very detailed health platform,” said Dr Lynn Hansen, President of the New Brunswick Medical Society. “We strongly support their suggestions to strengthen our primary care system, end the current system of billing numbers, and improve the governance of our health system.”

Doctors made a number of suggestions as part of their 2012 Health Plan and 2013’s Care First policy document. Coupled with doctors’ 2014 election priorities – family doctors for the 50,000 New Brunswickers who don’t have one, ensuring no senior has to live in a hospital, and shortening ER wait times – it appears the NDP has taken the physicians’ suggestion to “steal our health care ideas” seriously.

“The NDP platform has many details on suggested changes for the health system over the next provincial government’s mandate,” said Dr Hansen. “It covers a wide range of issues including organ donation, abortion, the role of Medical Officers of Health, and better care for seniors.”

Items in the NDP platform previously called for by the Medical Society include:

  • A recognition that family physicians will be the leaders of teams of health professionals dedicated to patient-focused primary care;
  • Increasing the recruitment of family doctors and specialists through increasing New Brunswick-based residency spaces;
  • Eliminating the current system of “billing numbers,” a broken regime that attempts to control how and where doctors can care for patients;
  • Removing the current ban on doctors serving on Regional Health Authority boards;

“While these commitments address a large number of health issues, we continue to hope that the NDP will commit to dramatically increasing the number of nursing home beds,” said Dr Hansen. “These nursing home beds are badly needed in our province to help the many seniors who are too sick to go home, but don’t need or want to be in hospital.”

Doctors have made a large effort to advance health care discussion during the 2014 Election. They have focused their attention on the three problems in health care most cited by patients: lack of access to family doctors, a shortage of nursing home beds, and long emergency room wait times.

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Founded in 1867, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) is the professional association representing all physicians in New Brunswick. Its twin goals are to represent and serve physicians, and advocate for the health of New Brunswickers.

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