10/22/11

Nova Scotia is cutting hospital spending 3%

Nova Scotia has told its district health authorities (DHAs) that it will cut their budgets three per cent next year.   The government already flat-lined DHA budget this year.

The DHAs deliver health services in Nova Scotia, including hospital, community health, mental health, and public health services.

Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald believes the budget cut presents an opportunity for the DHAs to improve efficiency through collaboration, HealthEdition.com reports. "We have to do things differently and ask whether duplicating programs and services across the province still makes sense.”

The DHAs are less enthusiastic.  “We can never promise absolute lack of disruption to our patients, to our staff, services, and so on,” says Amanda Whitewood, the chief financial officer of the Capital Health District in Halifax. Her DHA has had to reduce its spending by $11.3 million or 1.4 per cent this year to compensate for the budget freeze and inflationary pressures. With the budget cut next year, this could force an additional $21 million in spending reductions.

Danny Cavanaugh, president of CUPE Nova Scotia states, “I want to make it perfectly clear to the provincial government that CUPE believes any attempts to privatize, or ‘sell off’ or centralize parts of our health care system would be ill-advised and not in the interests of Nova Scotians.”

CUPE Acute Care Co-ordinator Wayne Thomas says, “The DHAs are now in the process of reviewing services with the direction of government to reduce spending by 3%. Our members who provide frontline services in hospitals, labs and clinics across the province are puzzled as to how this can be done without having a direct impact on patient care."

Ontario hospital budget increases fell to under 5% in the last two years, resulting in service cuts, bed cuts, ER closures, and layoffs.

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