Monday, March 26, 2007

NS gets funds for establishing wait time guarantees

Giving wait time guarantees not only will help to prevent long queues for some treatments but will also encourage provincial systems to invest in imaging and other equipment since otherwise they will be faced with costly transportation expenses to send patients to other jurisdictions. As long as there are no guarantees jurisdictions will simply refuse to pay for sending patients elsewhere since nothing forces them to do so. This encourages even longer queues and a two tier system where the rich will simply not wait but go to the US or elsewhere and pay themselves.

N.S. gets millions for wait-time guarantees
Updated Mon. Mar. 26 2007 10:05 AM ET

Canadian Press

HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia became the first province Monday to sign on to Ottawa's plan to establish wait-time guarantees for health care.

Federal Health Minister Tony Clement said Nova Scotia will draw $24.2 million from a $612-million trust fund -- announced in last week's federal budget -- to establish a wait-time guarantee for cancer radiation therapy by 2010.

The agreement states that patients needing radiation will wait no longer than eight weeks for treatment. If there is a longer delay, the patient will be given other options, including transportation to another jurisdiction.

"Today, ladies and gentlemen, Canada's health-care system truly enters the world of patient wait-time guarantees,'' Clement told a news conference in Halifax.

The province will also be eligible for up to $48 million over the next three years to implement other health-care wait time initiatives.

The funding announcement was expected to be the first in a series regarding the national program.

"We know that Canadians demand and deserve a better health-care system,'' he said. "This kind of agreement, between Canada and Nova Scotia, indicates it can be done.''

Nova Scotia also launched two wait-time pilot projects, the money for which will be drawn from a separate $30-million federal fund.

One project aims to improve diagnostic imaging for orthopedic patients, while the second will develop a centralized waiting list for people in need of hip and knee replacements.

"I feel very, very passionate about this agreement,'' said Nova Scotia Health Minister Chris d'Entremont.

"I'm extremely proud that our province is taking a leadership role today.''

Clement said Nova Scotia will also be eligible to benefit from a $400-million Health Canada fund that aims to develop electronic health records for the so-called Canada Health Infoway.

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