Efforts being made to improve mental health services in Cape Breton: health minister
2017-12-07 from capebretonpost.com
SYDNEY, N.S — The province’s health minister says it’s a positive move that the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the IWK are talking about how to improve delivery of mental health services.
In a phone interview Wednesday with the Cape Breton Post, Health Minister Randy Delorey said he became aware of a proposal that would see children and adolescents requiring mental health services attending the emergency department at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital transported to the IWK in Halifax when it was brought forward. The Nova Scotia Health Authority has since said that no changes in the current practice will go into effect before Jan. 1
“It certainly highlights the concerns that particularly the psychiatrists in Cape Breton are feeling and the frustrations around that,” he said.
Delorey said it’s his understanding that the NSHA is continuing to work with physicians and psychiatrists in Cape Breton as well as with the IWK to ensure services and coverage for youth and adolescents in Cape Breton, as well as around the province.
“The concern around that was noted, I think, by everybody that would have seen that particular proposal,” Delorey said. “Which is again part of the reason why, again, a different way to move forward with that, I think is a positive step forward, particularly seeing the two health authorities coming together rather than the NSHA feeling constrained to respond to the situation on their own. I think it’s great to see the IWK with their expertise particularly in youth and adolescent services to be part of that conversation and looking at the solutions.”
There are currently seven psychiatrists practising in Cape Breton, which will be reduced to six by the end of the month. A full complement would be about 16. There is one part-time child and adolescent psychiatrist.
The NSHA has confirmed there are currently no prospects for new psychiatrists interested in coming to Cape Breton.
Delorey said the NSHA is continuing to actively recruit to fill vacancies. He noted there had previously been some candidates who indicated a desire to fill a few of those positions who ultimately chose not to come.
“It’s a challenge across the country in some cases to get positions filled,” Delorey said.
Sydney River-Mira Louisbourg PC MLA Alfie MacLeod has called for more support to locums bringing physicians in to Cape Breton to help provide care rather than potentially making young people in crisis travel to Halifax. Delorey said that is one of the measures under consideration.
“I think there’s a number of initiatives underway as a province to try to address where there are needs and try to support the establishment and getting the appropriate physician and specialist coverage in communities in Cape Breton and across the province, where needed,” he said.
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