The New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) is strongly encouraged by the provincial government’s new five-year health plan. We believe this a transformative step forward for our health system and for the health and well-being of New Brunswickers. The NBMS is prepared to work with government and allied health-care partners on the implementation and execution of the health plan.
We are encouraged that the health plan addresses many of the same opportunities and challenges that the NBMS captured in our 57 recommendations to improve the health system.
The five areas addressed in government’s health plan are of critical importance to improving health care:
Access to primary care: The NBMS has been advocating for improved access to primary care for many years. Physicians encounter patients every day who suffer from lack of access to a primary care provider. The New Brunswick Primary Care Network will offer a new, innovative entry point to the health system for those in individuals and their families. Physicians are extremely busy with their current patient loads but understand the needs of New Brunswickers and want to help by offering more access through the Primary Care Network.
Access to surgery: New Brunswick has long struggled with wait times for surgeries that exceed the national average. We are encouraged to see innovative approaches developed to address the lengthy wait times that patients experience while waiting for surgeries. Successful pilot projects in the province, including the hip and knee replacement initiative in Saint John, have shown that we can improve wait times through innovation and a focused effort.
Create a connected system: Leveraging allied health partners and technology to create better integration in the health system while empowering New Brunswickers with more control over when and where they receive health care is an important step to modernizing the health-care experience and making it more accessible for patients.
Access to addiction and mental health services: There is far greater awareness about the importance mental health and addictions services today than there was a generation ago, or even a decade ago, but access to these services has been limited and inconsistent across much of our province. Adding walk-in care services, launching a new 24/7 crisis response line, and piloting initiatives to prevent or curb substance abuse are excellent steps to improve access and offer New Brunswickers the services they need.
Support seniors to age in place: Expanding Extra-Mural Program services and leveraging technology to enable seniors to live independently for as long as possible are positive steps to improve the lives of New Brunswick’s senior population. Ensuring seniors have the resources, programming, and care available where they live should also reduce capacity in our hospital system.
Government is correct to point out that properly managing and resourcing people, technology, funding, and governance are critical to achieving the targets set out in the health plan and to improving patient care. Simply put, we need people to and technology to provide the care needed. That requires dedicated funding and a strong governance model to continuously monitor the system, filling gaps and finding solutions to challenges on an ongoing basis. We have long believed that physicians are best able to recruit other physicians, and the NBMS is pleased to partner with government on physician recruitment and retention efforts.
The NBMS is pleased with the new provincial health plan and eager to work with allied health professionals and government to improve health care across New Brunswick.
Dr. Mark MacMillan, FRCPC
President, New Brunswick Medical Society
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