The debate – on emergency rooms

On Wednesday’s Information Morning (Halifax edition), St. FX political scientist Jim Bickerton observed that all three candidates in Tuesday’s debate stuck to pre-scripted talking points.

Of course they did, replied co-panelist Ralph Surette. Nova Scotia’s pathological political culture makes honest discussion of issues almost impossible. In health care, for example, no one can say out loud what everyone knows, that some small hospital emergency rooms ought to be closed permanently. We’d be crucify them on the spot.

[I am paraphrasing from memory, and would gladly link to the discussion, but the good folks at Information Morning have not posted it online.]

Marillia Stephenson talks sense in this morning’s Herald on the leaders’ pandering to rural hospital emergency rooms. She, too, points out what all three leaders already know—that many emergency rooms probably should close. Moneyquote:

[T]he truth is, as the Corpus Sanchez report on health care renewal told the government nearly 16 months ago, the health care system is in need of dramatic changes if it is to continue to function. That means streamlining and rationalizing care, particularly as it relates to hospital beds, long-term care and, yes, emergency room facilities. […]

We need to find better ways to streamline the system while offering the most urgently needed care for the 20 per cent of serious cases in rural ERs. And we need to get non-emergency cases out of emergency rooms in all parts of the province.

The promises about guaranteeing emergency care ring hollow unless we know what on earth the politicians mean when they talk about an emergency room.