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Throwing in the towel, doctor throws a wrench into campaign

A local doctor was pulled into the provincial election campaignThursday when he sent out a note to his patients that he was “givingup.”

A local doctor was pulled into the provincial election campaign Thursday when he sent out a note to his patients that he was “giving up.”

Dr. Rick Balys moved to Nova Scotia three years to set up his ear, nose and throat practice. He said he’s been fighting for regular surgery time ever since but it hasn’t happened.

Thursday he told his patients he had to refer them to other surgeons.

“It’s just unethical for me to keep people, keep my patients on a wait list without being able to give them a date for surgery,” he said.

“I just feel so bad. I don’t even know what to tell people anymore.”

Balys said non-life threatening cases often end up being delayed between one and three years for surgery. He believes that’s unacceptable.

The doctor said he didn’t intend to promote any political party, but the NDP seized on the letter as an opportunity to attack the Progressive Conservatives.

NDP Health Critic David Wilson said the government's inaction in waiting well into the year to approve health authority budgets helped to cause the long wait times. He said when the Capital District Health Authority revealed it had a budget shortfall, the government should have chipped in to help to make sure service didn’t suffer.

Health Minister Karen Casey could not be reached for comment Thursday.

But Capital Health spokesman Peter Graham wasn’t happy with Balys’ letter. He said it was misleading and does more harm than good, adding Balys moved here voluntarily and was never guaranteed regular surgery time.

Graham said the system isn’t perfect, but the most serious cases are addressed quickly, and that there are two full-time ear, nose and throat surgeons at the Dartmouth General Hospital, which is where Balys operates.

 
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