The Liberal government still refuses to commit to implementing a long-term vision for virtual doctor house calls in Nova Scotia.
At today’s Health Committee meeting, the Liberal chair shut down the Health Committee before a vote could take place on a Progressive Conservative motion to extend virtual care.
“Extending virtual care and planning for its long-term practice in our province is as much about modernizing health care as it is about the continuity of care,” says Barbara Adams, who is the MLA for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. “Patients are already being booked months in advance for follow-up appointments. Both doctors and patients need to know if this service will continue to be offered in order to ensure that patients are able to meet these appointments”
The Health Committee was shuttered by Premier Stephen McNeil since the COVID-19 outbreak in March. It has sat just twice since then.
“We heard very clearly from Doctors Nova Scotia that virtual care has been a positive experience for many Nova Scotians who chose book appointments virtually over the course of the pandemic,” says Colton LeBlanc, PC Critic for Preventative Care and MLA for Argyle-Barrington. “Virtual care works hand-and-hand with in-person doctor visits, but this government is refusing to commit to ensuring that this will continue to be an option after the holiday season.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston spoke of a vision for integrating virtual care into Nova Scotia’s health system in February, at the PC’s AGM. This notion was mocked by Premier McNeil during Question Period only a few weeks before the COVID-19 Pandemic forced many Nova Scotians to begin working from home.
“Oh, I forgot, Mr. Speaker, at the annual meeting he thought the best way to deliver primary care was for all of us to sit in our living rooms and call a doctor,” said Premier Stephen McNeil, March 3, 2020 during Question Period.
“Virtual care was not a priority for the previous Minister of Health, Randy Delorey,” says Adams. “I’ll be curious to see if the newly re-appointed Health Minister will make it a priority going forward.”