July 7th, 2022

Nova Scotians struggle to access health care, more people leaving the ER without being seen

HALIFAX -- Nova Scotians continue to struggle to access health care with reports of line-ups out the door at the ER, hospital units working short, and stories of people across the province waiting hours for paramedics.

“I recently had to go to the ER twice in one week and it was a rough scene with really long wait times, people lining the hallways in crippling pain, and the staff clearly being run off their feet and burning out,” said Natalie Brown who lives with chronic illness that often sends her to the ER. “I know the frontline workers are doing their best and doing as much as they can. This is the worst I’ve seen it and something needs to be done.”

According to data from a new FOI, over 43,000 people left an emergency department without being seen last year, an increase of 60 percent from the year before.

When patients are lining up with lawn chairs outside the hospital and people are forced to leave their aging parents alone at the ER for lack of space, it is clear that we need a government that isn’t content with letting things get worse before they get better.

“The health care system is reaching a critical breaking point and we’ve heard the Premier say many times that it will get worse before it gets better. But we have to ask, how much worse is he willing to let it get?” said NDP Health and Wellness spokesperson Susan Leblanc. While the Houston government has made some progress with hiring, that doesn’t help the parents waiting hours in triage at the IWK, or the seniors waiting alone at the ER.”

All areas of the health care system are struggling, with almost 95,000 people on the need a family doctor wait list, 25,000 more than were on the list last year. The FOI also shows the number of people admitted to the ER who didn’t have a family doctor grew by 29 per cent.

“For eight years we had a Liberal government that pushed the system and the people working in it to near-collapse. Now the Houston government says they’re going to fix it, but in 10 months we’ve seen things get much worse,” said NDP Leader Claudia Chender. “We need a government that shows enough concern to take bold action now to make sure people have the care they deserve.”

The NSNDP government created collaborative emergency centres that kept rural ERs open and helped make sure people could access primary care. The Houston government must do more to innovate and ensure Nova Scotians get the care they need.