Nova Scotia Joins with Canada's New Government to Announce Patient Wait Times Guarantee



    HALIFAX, NS, March 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Tony Clement, Federal
Minister of Health, and the Honourable Chris d'Entremont, Nova Scotia Health
Minister, today announced that Nova Scotia has agreed to establish a Patient
Wait Times Guarantee in radiation therapy for cancer by 2010, to be supported
by $24.2 million in federal Budget 2007 funding. Nova Scotia will also be
eligible to benefit from the $400 million in new funding for Canada Health
Infoway, and the $30 million for pilot projects as announced in Budget 2007.
Nova Scotia is well positioned to receive up to $48 million over the next
three years for the implementation of the Patient Wait Times Guarantees.
    "This is a historic moment for healthcare in Canada to have Nova Scotia
as the first province to work with Canada's New Government and announce a
Patient Wait Times Guarantee," said Minister Clement. "For the first time,
Nova Scotians will be guaranteed timely health care access in the area of
cancer radiation therapy. We congratulate Nova Scotia for its leadership in
taking this step, and guaranteeing patient care."
    In addition to cancer radiation therapy, Nova Scotia will also implement
two pilot projects. The first will seek ways to improve efficiencies in
diagnostic imaging. And the second one will be to develop an electronic
patient portal system/centralized wait list for Nova Scotians awaiting hip and
knee replacement surgery across the province.
    "I'm very proud that Nova Scotia is leading the way," said Nova Scotia
Health Minister Chris d'Entremont. "Cancer affects so many Nova Scotians, we
want to ensure they get the radiation treatment they need as quickly as
possible."
    Canada's New Government intends to provide up to $612 million in a
Patient Wait Times Guarantee Trust, $400 million for health information
technology through Infoway, an organization which is making significant
progress in working with provinces and territories to implement electronic
health records. In addition to these investments, $30 million over three years
will go to provinces and territories for pilot projects related to
establishing guarantees.
    "This new guarantee will give patients the care they need, when they need
it," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Regional Minister of Nova Scotia and
Minister of Foreign Affairs. "Canadians expect their federal government to
work with the provinces in their best interests, and we are proud to be
working with Nova Scotia to improve health care for the people of this
province."
    The federal government believes it is critical Canadians remain confident
in the publicly-funded health care system without having to turn to the courts
to seek recourse. Quebec has already announced its intention to establish
guarantees of access in hip, knee and cataract surgeries.
    Canada's New Government has previously announced four pilot projects
toward achieving timely access to better care. Three are designed to test
guarantees for prenatal and diabetes care in selected First Nations
communities, while the fourth is a national paediatric pilot project to
address wait times for children in need of surgery.

    Background on two Pilot Projects

    Diagnostic Imaging Project
    --------------------------

    Diagnostic imaging services are a critical and frequently time-consuming
juncture in a patient's care journey. Nova Scotia's "Improving Access to
Diagnostic Imaging Services" project will help primary care physicians order
the best diagnostic test for their patients, using appropriateness guidelines
developed by the Canadian Association of Radiologists. It will also improve
efficiencies in diagnostic imaging and support patient choice on where and
when they receive care.

    Orthopaedic Services Project
    ----------------------------

    Long waits for orthopaedic surgery are a significant concern for Nova
Scotians. The orthopaedic services project will develop an electronic patient
portal system supported by a provincial surgical care network and surgical
registry. A centralized waiting list across the five surgical centres
providing orthopaedic services in the province could allow for the provision
of options to patients as to where and when they receive care.


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For further information:

For further information: Media Inquiries: Carole Saindon, Health Canada,
(613) 957-1588; Erik Waddell, Office of the Honourable Tony Clement, Federal
Minister of Health, (613) 957-0200; Valerie Bellefontaine, Director of
Communications, Nova Scotia Department of Health, (902) 499-4767; Sherri
Aikenhead, Communications Advisor, Nova Scotia Department of Health, (902)
456-6386; Public Enquiries: (613) 957-2991, 1-866 225-0709; Health Canada news
releases are available on the Internet at www.healthcanada.gc.ca/media


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