The Barrington man, like many Nova Scotian’s, has been waiting two years for his hip replacement surgery.
“It took almost a year just for Murray to have a consultation with a surgeon,” says his wife Cindy Newell. “Now, we’ve been waiting a year to find out when the surgery will happen. My husband’s quality of life has gone down the drain and at this point, we are desperate. We can’t wait any longer.”
When she calls the hospital, she said, she gets the same answer
“You are not the only one waiting.”
According to a provincial government website the wait times for a hip replacement in the province for 90 percent of the population in Nova Scotia is 669 days.
But Murray Newell has nearly been waiting this long and there is no surgery in sight.
“He’s in so much pain its unbearable to watch,” said his wife. She said he can’t walk, play with his grandchildren, visit friends and it is increasingly difficult to drive or sleep comfortably.
His favourite activity, when he had full mobility, was to go bird watching. He would drive distances to see a rare bird, go to Brier Island to watch the whales or collect beach glass along the shores. He hasn’t been able to do any of that.
He also hasn’t been able to work to the same extent and can only manage a couple hours a day.
The arthritis in Murray’s hip has gotten so bad he has no cartilage or tissue around his bone, his wife said. “I don’t understand why his case isn’t considered a priority? Why more surgeons aren’t being hired?”
Murray can’t wait any longer and has opted to go out of province to a private clinic for the surgery.
The cost is $20,000.
Cindy Newell believes these wait lists should be a top priority for whoever is in power next.
“Healthcare should be first on the agenda,” she said.
WHAT DO THE PARTIES SAY?
These are the stances of the three political parties on healthcare and wait times if they get in power.
• Issues in Nova Scotia health care system are interconnected and negatively affect wait times for surgeries such as hip replacements. The Nova Scotia PC Party will take several specific actions that will help alleviate this issue.
• The PC Party is committed to hiring more family physicians. The lack of family doctors is creating a bottleneck from the ER to the OR.
• The PCs will require that savings be found at the administrative level of the health authority and it be put back into frontline care. Merging health authorities was something the PCs supported but, the party says, under Stephen McNeil the administration costs continue to balloon with increasing layers of administration instead of health care professionals.
• The party is committed to developing the next phase of the continuing care strategy, which will help free up hospital beds, it says. “We also recognize that under the McNeil government, sterilization services have been problematic and may even move out of some hospitals where surgeries take place. This causes some non-emergency surgeries to be cancelled.”
• The PC Party says it has an aggressive plan to recruit family doctors and nurse practitioners, as well as, specialists like anesthesiologists and orthopaedic surgeons.
• Investing $78 million to expand and create more than 70 collaborative care teams across Nova Scotia. Over the next four years, the funding will go directly toward the hiring of nurses, social workers, mental health workers and other health professionals working with doctors in collaborative care clinics. These collaborative care teams will also serve as an important recruiting tool for new physicians.
• Investing $5 million per year to create and renovate collaborative care clinics. This work will begin in 2018.
• A Liberal government will also invest $11.7 million over four years to create 10 new spaces every year in the Family Medicine Residency Program. This is in addition to the current 36 spaces. Ten spaces per year will also be created in a new Practice Ready Assessment program for internationally trained family doctors. These additional seats will mean over 50 new family physicians in the province each year.
• There will also be a $12-million investment over four years in the Physician Tuition Relief program. Tuition relief of up to $120,000 will be provided for a five-year return of service commitment in Nova Scotia with a focus on communities in need.
• In Budget 2017-18, the Liberals committed to funding an additional 400 orthopedic surgeries per year. This will be accomplished by providing $3.7 million per year to fund more surgeries and improve prehabilitation services.
To reduce wait times and improve healthcare, an NDP government will:
• Invest $120 million over four years to build new primary care clinics and hire more doctors, nurse practitioners and health professionals;
• Reverse McNeil's $8 million cut to nursing homes and residential facilities, and invest an additional $60 million in additional nursing beds to take the pressure off of emergency rooms;
• Double the initial investment in the Mental Health Strategy in order to cut the wait times for community-based mental health care by half and open three pilot mental health hubs at emergency departments in Kentville, Halifax, and Sydney to take pressure off emergency rooms
• Keep emergency rooms open throughout the province by opening seven new collaborative emergency centres.
• Implement all recommendations in the Code Critical report to improve emergency care, and be an active partner with doctors, nurses, health professionals and communities to deliver the care that's right for them.