Better Care Sooner Will Improve Emergency Care for Nova Scotians

Premier's Office

Published Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nova Scotians will have the emergency care they need, when they need it with the province's Better Care Sooner Plan. The plan, announced by Premier Darrell Dexter and Minister of Health Maureen MacDonald, will improve the quality of emergency care, reduce overcrowding and wait times for patients in emergency rooms, and provide better health care for families.


This plan keeps emergency rooms open and gives communities access to emergency care day and night. Communities that once had closed doors will soon have services matched to their needs. It will ensure people in this province get the level of care they need and deserve.Premier Darrell Dexter

We want patients to be able to see their doctor more quickly and get better care from health care teams, so they can avoid going to an emergency room. For those who do require emergency care, we want their journey through the emergency department to be as short, safe and comfortable as possible. That is what Better Care Sooner is all about.Health Minister Maureen MacDonald

I believe that nurse practitioners, along with family-practice nurses, paramedics -- all of us working together as a team -- makes a lot more sense in today's health-care environment. As a doctor, I can't be all things to all people. I need my colleagues to work with me. So I think building capacity and expanding the reach of health care through different people doing the work makes a lot of good sense.Dr. Ajantha Jayabarathan

In order to improve emergency care in Nova Scotia, we need to enhance things outside of the hospital -- primary care, access to 911, access to 811 ... so there is a variety of options to respond to patients needs. The Better Care Sooner Plan helps do just that.John Malcom, CEO of the Cape Breton District Health Authority

Quick Facts

  • The Better Care Sooner Plan is based on the recommendations of Dr. John Ross, the province's emergency care advisor. The plan includes the following themes to improve the province's emergency care system:
    • Improve access to primary care, especially in smaller communities. This will lessen the burden on emergency rooms and provide better care to patients.
    • Make emergency care more patient-centred and streamlined. This will shorten wait times and provide good quality care across the province.
    • Provide care that is better tailored to those whose needs are more complex, like seniors and people with mental illness.
    • Increase public awareness of 911 and healthlink nurse line 811. This will ensure people can access the care and support they need sooner.
  • A critical component of the plan includes creating new collaborative emergency centres, which will match the level of services with the needs of residents in the community. Patients will have access to a team of health-care professionals including nurses, doctors and paramedics to provide the level of care that is required. That will enable patients to get same or next day appointments.
  • Including the collaborative emergency centres, the plan outlines 33 actions that will be fully implemented between now and 2014.They include:
    • Every regional hospital must develop a plan to shorten time frames for moving patients from ambulance into hospital, and from triage to a hospital bed or departure.
    • Health professionals will be supported in working to the full extent of their training, abilities and experience.
    • Patients will get more information and be made more comfortable as they wait.
    • More nurse practitioners are being hired to work in nursing homes, and paramedics will provide more care for seniors in nursing homes and at home so they will not have to got to emergency.
    • A public education campaign will be launched so that people will have a greater understanding of 811 nurse line and 911 paramedics.
    • Paramedics will get additional training and equipment to enhance their life-saving skills. This includes training to deliver a clot-busting drug for heart attack patients.
    • Dedicating a plane and a new two-stretcher ambulance to save valuable driving time for paramedics and transport patients comfortably and cost-effectively.
    • Health-care funding will be changed to reward better health results for patients.
  • Cape Breton District Health Authority CEO John Malcom welcomes the province's effort to unclog crowded emergency rooms.

Learn More

Media Contact

Janet Lynn McNeil
Premier's Office
Cell: 902-237-4287
Sherri Aikenhead
Cell: 902-456-6386


Dr. Ajantha Jayabarathan, family physician
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Dr. Jane Brooks, President of Doctors NS, examines a patient at her clinic in Middleton, Nova Scotia.
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John Malcom, CEO of Cape Breton District Health Authority
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Mark Walker, paramedic
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Premier Darrell Dexter answers questions from the medial about the Better Care Sooner Plan.
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Premier Darrell Dexter holds a copy of the Better Care Sooner Plan while speaking to the audience in Middle Musquodoboit.
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Health Minister Maureen MacDonald listens to a question as Premier Darrell Dexter stands behind her.
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Donna Haverstock, 811 Registered Nurse
Dr. Jane Brooks, President of Doctors NS
John Malcom, CEO of Cape Breton District Health Authority
Mark Walker, EHS Paramedic
Dr. Ajantha Jayabarathan, family physician


Premier Darrell Dexter says the Better Care Sooner Plan will ensure Nova Scotians get the level of care they need and deserve in a timely fashion.
Health Minister Maureen MacDonald says the plan will improve the quality of emergency care across the province.
John Malcom, CEO of the Cape Breton District Health Authority, says the plan should take stress off emergency rooms by improving access to primary care, and better awareness of 911 and healthlink nurse line 811.
Dr. Ajantha Jayabarathan says it is important that patients are getting access to care that meets their needs.
Doctors Nova Scotia president, Dr. Jane Brooks says measures such as creating collaborative emergency centres will help alleviate the pressure on emergency departments.