Clear provincial standards are a critical first step to improve emergency care in Nova Scotia, the province's advisor on emergency care says in his interim report, released today, April 8.
Dr. John Ross's report says it is the foundation needed to improving emergency care for Nova Scotians.
"Establishing standards for Nova Scotia's emergency departments will be another step forward in meeting government's commitment to provide better health care for families," said Health Minister Maureen MacDonald. "We are committed to promoting patient safety and quality health care across the province, and I'm pleased that this is also Dr. Ross's focus."
The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians commended Nova Scotia for being the first province in Canada to develop provincial emergency care standards.
"This is a major and important first step in a plan to improve access to emergency services for all Nova Scotians," said Dr. Alan Drummond, chair of public affairs for the association. "We wish other provinces would follow their lead and emulate such an approach."
The interim report also summarizes Dr. Ross's observations from visits to district health authorities and communities. It highlights the need to collect and share reliable, consistent data and increase access to primary health care to give people more options.
The report emphasizes the need to take an integrated approach that recognizes the interdependencies of hospitals, districts and the province's ambulance system.
The report also identified compensation and staffing as issues that need to be addressed.
"My purpose for this review was to visit individual communities, listen to local concerns, find common themes and develop a provincial strategy for improving the whole emergency care system," said Dr. Ross. "I truly believe we can provide improved 24/7 access to emergency services for life- and limb-threatening problems across the province, but this needs to be decided based on best evidence, respect for communities and a systems approach."
Dr. Ross was appointed Provincial Advisor on Emergency Care in September 2009.
In November 2009, government passed legislation to increase accountability by requiring districts to consult communities on emergency room closures. The minister will table a report in the legislature this spring.
As well, $3 million has been allocated in the 2010-11 budget for an emergency department protection fund.
Dr. Ross will now visit the remaining two districts, complete performance profiles for emergency departments and continue work on emergency care centre standards. He will submit his next report this summer.
Ms. MacDonald said she looks forward to Dr. Ross's next report.
"I appreciate Dr. Ross's experience, candor and commitment to consultation that he brings to this work," she said. "This report provides important information that will support the right decisions for families in difficult times."
Dr. Ross's interim report is available at www.gov.ns.ca/health/emergencycarereport
FOR BROADCAST USE:
Clear provincial standards are a critical first step to
improve Nova Scotia's emergency rooms, the province's advisor
on emergency care says in his interim report, released today
Health Minister Maureen MacDonald says Dr. John Ross's
work to establish provincial standards will be another step
forward in meeting government's commitment to provide better
health care for families.
The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians is
commending Nova Scotia for being the first province in Canada
to develop provincial emergency care standards.
The interim report highlights the need to collect and
share reliable, consistent data, increase access to primary
health care, take an integrated approach and identifies
compensation and staffing issues to be addressed.
Dr. Ross says he visited communities, listened to local
concerns, found common themes and will work to develop a
provincial strategy for improving the emergency care system.
He will submit his next report this summer. The interim
report is available on the Health Department website.
Media Contact: Avril Vollenhoven
Department of Health