Physicians speak out against broken health care system in Cape Breton
Published Saturday, January 12, 2019 5:47PM AST
Last Updated Saturday, January 12, 2019 6:42PM AST
SYDNEY, N.S. -- A Cape Breton physician is angry the provincial government isn’t doing enough to help medical staff at the islands largest hospital.
Doctor Margaret Fraser says staff are overworked and underpaid, and although the health minister says steps have been taken to ease the workload, she says she’s seen no improvements.
You just go in and see as many patients as you can and get them through as efficiently as you can, but there’s only so much you can do,” Fraser told CTV News Saturday, before beginning her shift at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
“There are periods during the day when the ER is critically overcrowded, where the physicians actually aren’t able to see patients because there’s nowhere to see them,” she said.
Fraser said when she arrived, there were 13 admitted patients, a full waiting room, and four ambulances lined up at the backdoor waiting to off load patients.
“It’s not on the healthcare workers, it’s not on the staff of the hospital, it’s not on the paramedics – they’re trying their best in a broken system,” she said.
There has been a public outcry after a doctor took to social media to express her displeasure with the state of health care on the island, which included long wait times, patients being treated in hallways, and no ambulances available to answer calls.
Rebecca Strickland, a 23-year paramedic, now retired posted to Facebook urging the public to put pressure on government officials for help.
“You need to document your adverse event and if you don’t get a response in a few days, send it again. Keep senging it until you get a satisfactory answer as to why that adverse event happened and what steps this government is going to take to correct it. None of us should rest until that happens,” said Strickland.
Lisa Bond and her group Capers 4 Health Care released their first newsletter Saturday, outlining the number of hours ER departments were closed in Cape Breton.
The group is planning a sit-in at two local liberal MLA offices on Friday.
“We want them to actually go and fight for us; tell McNeil there is a crisis. They live here. This is their island. They’re Cape Breton boys, they need to stand up for us,” Bond said.
Nova Scotia’s health minister, Randy Delroy said earlier this week that the government is adding incentives for medical staff so that shifts will be covered in the future, but Dr. Fraser says that isn’t anything new.
“All they did was make changes to change the changes that made is impossible to get locums. In terms of the additional fess he’s talking about, I’ve certainly seen no evidence of that. I’m not getting paid more than I was previously,” said Fraser.
She says it things don’t change soon – conditions are only going to get worse.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore