Our vision is healthy people, healthy communities - for generations. We can achieve this vision by working closely with Nova Scotians, governments, academic institutions, businesses, community groups, community health boards, foundations and auxiliaries. This is the power of partnerships.
Since our creation a little more than two years ago, we have been building an organization that can plan provincially and deliver locally. We are focused on quality, access and sustainability, and are working with our partners to create a healthier future.
We face challenges, access to primary health care being top among them. We can address challenges such as this one if we have the courage to do things differently. At the end of the 2016-17 fiscal year, 27,757 Nova Scotians had joined our provincial Need A Family Practice registry of those needing access to a family doctor or nurse practitioner. We are committed to meeting those needs by improving access to family doctors, nurse practitioners and other health professionals, while embracing a wellness model that includes health promotion, education, illness and injury prevention, as well as chronic disease management.
Physician recruitment – in both primary health care and specialty areas – has been a significant area of challenge. We assumed responsibility for recruitment of doctors in April 2016 and are changing the process. We first established a recruitment team in each of our four management zones. We aligned processes across the province and are working to establish better data tracking to follow the physician workforce from their first conversation with our team until they announce retirement. In addition to our ongoing recruitment efforts within Nova Scotia and Canada, we focused on international recruitment opportunities made possible by changes to provincial licensing and immigration. We will continue to focus on international recruitment, as well as recruitment from within Nova Scotia and Canada, in 2017-18.
Wait lists for hip and knee surgeries and MRIs have also been areas of challenge over the past two years. Since NSHA’s formation in April 2015, we have completed thousands more MRIs, reducing overall wait times by about 12 per cent. In the past two years, we have also performed about 1,500 additional hip and knee surgeries, targeting those who have been waiting longest. We remain focused on addressing these areas of challenge to meet the needs of those still waiting for these services.
We have seen significant success in improving access to home care and long-term care. Compared with two years ago, more Nova Scotians are getting access to continuing care programs and services, and are receiving care sooner than before. You’ll read more about these successes in this report.
Innovation is a core value in our organization and is essential to supporting improvements in our care and service delivery. It is also integral to our planning. In this spirit, we are expanding our research capacity and activity across the province. We’ve hired senior researchers, project co-ordinators and a health outcomes scientist to lead province-wide efforts, along with research facilitators in Eastern, Northern and Western Zones. Together, these new research-focused staff members are reaching out across the province to encourage more people to get involved in community-based research initiatives.
We know that we will not achieve our vision by focusing on health care alone. That’s why engaging Nova Scotians is important, and it’s why our strategic plan is called Healthier Together.
Our 2016-17 annual report highlights just a few of the ways we’re working with partners – patients, clients, families, communities, community health boards, employees, physicians, learners, volunteers, foundations and auxiliaries, government and others – to achieve our vision. Creating a healthy province will not come easily, and we have much work yet to do.
Nova Scotia Health Authority remains focused on building a high-quality health system that is accessible for everyone in this province and sustainable into the future, one that helps Nova Scotians be healthy and stay healthy. By listening to and learning from one another, we can build a system that delivers the best health and wellness services for Nova Scotians.