Smith-McCrossin to McNeil: Restore Rural Emergency Locums To Keep Emergency Departments Open

Progressive Conservative leadership candidate and Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin is calling on Premier Stephen McNeil to bring back the rural emergency locum program to keep emergency departments open through the summer months.


The rural emergency department locum program ended several years ago under the McNeil Liberals without explanation.  The locum program ensured there was physician coverage at emergency departments when doctors took time off, whether for illness, maternity leaves or vacation.


This week, seven rural emergency departments closed in Nova Scotia due to lack of physician coverage.


“Stephen McNeil can fix this latest example of the health care crisis and bring back a rural emergency department locum program,” said Smith-McCrossin, who used a similar locum program for primary health care to manage through physician absences at her Amherst Family Health Clinic.


The lack of a rural emergency department locum program was raised with Smith-McCrossin in a meeting last week with Doctors Nova Scotia President Dr. Tim Holland.


“Every line of work requires good human resource planning – health care is no different.  Locum programs are necessary to ensure patients that need physician care get physician care,” said Smith-McCrossin.  “I urge Premier McNeil to step up and get involved in this issue, just as he did on the government’s reversal last week on cuts to children’s dental care.  It’s time to do the right thing for emergency care in rural Nova Scotia and bring back the rural emergency department locum program.”


Smith-McCrossin noted that locum programs also help expose young doctors to rural communities, providing an opportunity for doctors to become more comfortable living and working in rural centres full-time.


“Nova Scotians can’t wait 2-3 years for a change in government and a new Premier,” added Smith-McCrossin.  “Stephen McNeil should do the right thing now and take action to keep rural emergency departments open.”


A registered nurse for 27 years who helped recruit 11 doctors to Cumberland County through the establishment of the Amherst Family Health Clinic, Smith-McCrossin has made improving health care one of the three major themes of her PC leadership campaign.


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