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Will province flip-flop on ERs?

Health Minister Maureen MacDonald said she will review Dr. John Ross’s report on emergency health care, but could not say whether the province will accept any or all of its 26 recommendations.

Health Minister Maureen MacDonald said she will review Dr. John Ross’s report on emergency health care, but could not say whether the province will accept any or all of its 26 recommendations.

Ross’s report, which outlines sweeping changes to the way health care is provided in the province, also recommends putting an end to 24-7 ER rooms in several smaller hospitals, some of which only see one or two patients in a night.

Ross said patients in those hospitals would be better served with daytime and evening emergency service, and an increased emphasis on primary care. By eliminating back-shifts in the emergency room, the move would free up more doctors for primary care during the day.

But that’s not in keeping with the NDP’s 2009 election promise to maintain 24-7 emergency care — a fact that was not lost on Liberal health critic Dianna Whalen.

“The original promise to keep emergency rooms open 24-7 was never possible and ... we knew that,” she said. “I think it points out politically that the NDP in the last election were crass, and they broke another promise.”

But MacDonald denied claims of using Ross’s report to go back on the now-government’s word.

“The recommendations here are for improved access to primary care, improved access for emergency care,” she said. “Those are the thrusts of our government’s commitments to improve emergency care and improve wait times.”

• See the full report at gov.ns.ca/health/emergencycarereport

 
 
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