Facts important when discussing health care

Dear editor

As president of Doctors Nova Scotia, representing all doctors, residents, and medical students, I felt it was necessary to respond to Bill Swan’s Oct. 31 editorial Stop the drift to private care by protecting system.

While Mr. Swan article raised many important points about the provincial government’s desire to introduce a new Health Services and Insurance Act and we share the desire to protect the public health system, he did offer a few opinions that I felt should be challenged.

Doctors Nova Scotia is supportive of the Act being rewritten as it has the potential to better support how care is, and should be, delivered today. Issues such as patient rights, a patient-focused system, accountability, and preserving the public health-care system are important foundations for the delivery of care. These need to be evident in any new Act. 

However, it’s unfounded for Mr. Swan to assert that the new draft Act ‘goes far toward finally getting doctors off the fee-for-service treadmill’ and that ‘fee for service is why your doctor is always rushing or wasting your time by having you book another appointment’. This is an oversimplification, and maligns the many fee-for-service physicians who deliver quality care to their patients every day. While payment models certainly have a role in the health-care system and shouldn’t be overlooked, there are many complex issues in the system, such as aging demographics, limited resources and increasing chronic diseases, that have contributed to the challenges we face today.

Every single day I witness physicians and other health-care providers making care for their patients their top priority, regardless of how they are paid.  On behalf of all physicians in the province, Doctors Nova Scotia will continue to be actively engaged in this piece of legislation with a desire to help ensure it supports the best patient care possible. 


John Finley, MDCM, FRCPC