FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government announced its action plan for an equitable distribution of health services today.

"The Government of New Brunswick is committed to provide all New Brunswickers with the high-quality health-care services they deserve and they need without any linguistic barriers," said Health Minister Hugh Flemming. "This action plan is an important step toward bringing more equity into the health-care system."

The action plan consists of a list of new or expanded services in all regions of the province that are designed to address genuine gaps in New Brunswick's health-care system. It fulfills the provincial government's commitment to improve distribution of services to the francophone population across New Brunswick.
"All New Brunswickers have a right to health-care services in their language of choice,” said Flemming. “These services must be sustainable, safe, of quality, and with enough patient volume to make it financially viable and maintain clinical expertise."

The five-year plan includes the following:

●    In the Chaleur region: a new provincial cochlear implant surgery program; bariatric surgery as part of a provincial program; expanded neurology services; improved plastic surgery services; a rheumatology service to be shared with the Restigouche region; and the designation of the Chaleur Regional Hospital as a university-affiliated hospital centre.

●    In the Restigouche region: a new rheumatology clinic to be shared with the Chaleur region and the designation of the Campbellton Regional Hospital as a university-affiliated hospital centre.

●    In the Edmundston region: a new heart failure management program; a new rheumatology clinic, and the designation of the Edmundston Regional Hospital as a university-affiliated hospital centre.

●    At the Dr. Georges-L. Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton: obstetrical/gynecological oncology as a provincial program; a sleep lab; expanded neurology services; bariatric surgery as part of a provincial program; a provincial cornea transplant program; a provincial response team for pathogen level 4 and a virology lab as a provincial service; and improvements to oncology resources.

●    Throughout the Vitalité Health Network: a new sexual assault nurse examiner program; a regional spiritual/pastoral care co-ordinator; improvements to child psychiatry services; and academic leadership will be promoted.

Access to services and programs will also be improved for francophones using the Horizon Health Network in the Saint John, Fredericton and Miramichi regions.

Feasibility studies will be conducted for a cardiac catheterization laboratory; opiate addiction treatment; intermediate rehabilitation services for the north; and a geriatrics program.

In the future, new services will only be added to New Brunswick's health-care system if they are in keeping with the principles of financial and clinical sustainability, safety, quality and adequate patient volumes. If a new service is added or a service is extended, it will be provided where possible in the health authority not currently offering it.

"Health care is an absolute priority in the lives of New Brunswickers, and our government is determined to protect and enhance a system that we all cherish, " Flemming said.