Moving forward with our first business plan

Janet Knox CEO of the Nova Scotia Health Authority

Today we are sharing our first annual business plan as an integrated provincial health system. The plan, approved by the Department of Health and Wellness, outlines the goals and priorities of Nova Scotia Health Authority as we work together to become healthier people. It will be a foundation for creating a better connected, co-ordinated system that delivers more consistent quality care and services across the province.

Since April 1, much effort has been spent on the logistics of getting Nova Scotia Health Authority on its feet. You may have noticed this work going on in the background, and we’ve tried to assure Nova Scotians that the new structure would not mean an immediate change in where they go to receive care or who provides that care.

The work of building one organization from nine is considerable and will take years. The approval of our business plan, relatively early in our first fiscal year compared with previous years, is a significant development that allows us to move forward in earnest. The budget of $1.8 billion is about the same amount of funding as the nine former district health authorities received combined. But that doesn’t mean the way forward is doing what we have done as nine separate entities but on a bigger scale. It must be more than this.

Nova Scotia Health Authority is very much focused on the needs and health of Nova Scotians and our communities—a system that supports individuals, families and communities to be healthy and stay as healthy as possible by ensuring we have the right people in the right places providing the right services at the right time. Working together with Nova Scotians and our key partners in and outside of the health system in the coming year, I believe we’re likely to find that doing things differently than we have in the past can lead to better results and better health.

Over the past several years, managers, staff, physicians and volunteers throughout the province have worked hard to control and reduce spending, while maintaining and improving quality. We will continue to need your support, co-operation and creativity in finding innovative ways to manage our costs so that we can stay focused on helping Nova Scotians be healthy and stay healthy.

That said, the process followed to arrive at this initial business plan for Nova Scotia Health Authority was not what some of you may have been accustomed to from previous years. Because we were leaving behind nine separate business plans to build a new one, planning happened at a higher level. In the future, we’ll be better able to draw on the ideas and expertise of a wider circle of people.

The 2015-16 business plan addresses pressures caused by inflationary increases in the costs of supplies and equipment, as well as contract increases and other obligations. This amounts to about $41.5 million, which we will need to address through a combination of targeted expense savings as well as revenue generation.

Here is an overview of some of the strategies we will use to achieve a balanced budget at year-end:

-working together across the province to plan, co-ordinate and organize our programs and services—to enhance care, help improve wait times, and use health teams and spaces as efficiently and effectively as possible

-further streamlining our structure and processes and putting in place new leadership models to increase efficiency, co-ordination and consistency

-looking at province-wide opportunities to co-ordinate how we support our workforce, managing vacancies, attendance and replacements to help us control staffing costs and support healthy workplaces

-simplifying our buying processes and benefitting from volume price discounts for supplies and equipment

-putting in place a more consistent approach to recovering costs for services, supplies and procedures not covered by the provincial health insurance program

It will be challenging to meet our targets—we know that. We also know that we have efficiencies to gain by working together as one organization—by sharing our ideas, expertise, experience, policies and resources across the province. We need to operate as one organization and collaborate with our partners at the Department of Health and Wellness and the IWK Health Centre to provide safe, quality care and services while living within our means.

As we shape our new organization for success and bring our best together for the benefit of Nova Scotians, there will continue to be a lot of uncertainty and change. I know this can be difficult. I am committed to supporting you and keeping you informed as we work through these changes. In the coming weeks, members of our leadership team will be meeting with managers and staff throughout our organization to talk about how we will work together to support the health of our communities.