Lax leadership at the NSHA

Once again we have dynamic proof of the lax “leadership” of the Nova Scotia Health Authority. I use the word “leadership” loosely. I don’t mean to imply vision, inspiration or success in the role, merely referencing those at the top of the corporate pyramid.

Currently the Premier and Health Minister, as well as many Nova Scotians, are upset that the NSHA didn’t send a representative to a physician recruiting event in St. John’s which was targeted to the practice of rural medicine.

NSHA’s explanation/excuse is that they haven’t done well at it in the past and it’s too expensive. As excuses go that’s a bit rich. This executive have a reputation for spending. When they headed the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority (AVDHA) their administration costs were three percent above the national average. As a perk, which is on-going, they provided subsidized lunches to 160 white collar workers toiling away in the corporate bunker. This involves employing two catering staff on-site at the executive offices, trucking morning and afternoon snacks as well as a hot and cold lunch entrée the five kilometres across town from the hospital. This was/is considered a reasonable cost for these executives. One assumes that a subsidized lunch program has been introduced for the NSHA corporate offices in Halifax. Which hospital kitchens provide it?

The decision not to travel the great distance from Halifax to St. John’s seems like they’re trying to hide their past failures by inaction.

Interestingly, every other province and territory had recruiters at this event. The recruiter for the Yukon told the CBC that she had developed “60 soft leads” from the event and expected those to become “10 hard leads”. The Yukon, like others, used this as an opportunity to develop relationships with medical students, which they maintained throughout the students’ years of study. The Yukon knows who is ready to graduate and makes offers before others.

NSHA hasn’t done a stellar job in recruitment among local medical students, so why should we think they could woo students studying in Newfoundland? The biggest impediment to practicing medicine in Nova Scotia has been the NSHA. In pursuit of its collaborative care masterplan the NSHA has discouraged physicians from practicing where those physicians were interested in practicing. It has dictated unacceptable terms and conditions. And then it just basically treats people like shit. The most recent example is the $10 million spent to litigate the case of Dr. Gabrielle Horne – which Dr. Horne won. That’s not a positive message for any professional considering relocation.

Speak to anyone in Nova Scotia’s health care system and you don’t hear happiness. What you hear are people counting the months until they can retire and get away from the bullshit. I wonder if this count-down has seeped into the executive suite. CEO Janet Knox and Vice President Dr. Lynn Harrigan are around 24 months from retirement age. Have they adopted a don’t-rock-the-boat position as they wait for their numbers to add up?

Another disincentive for action is the fashion in health care for new-hires to reward those who gave them their positions with lucrative consultancies, thus doubling or tripling the executive’s retirement income.

But why would we expect this leadership to perform? In the nine years of covering health care in Nova Scotia I have not heard from a politician, physician, patient, nurse, front-line worker, supplier, other health executive or union representative who had positive impressions about the system or those in charge. No one has pointed to any example of success or innovation in the careers of these executives. Those who work in the system are unhappy. Those who use the system are unhappy. And politicians – in and out of government – are unhappy.

Given how this leadership has performed, why would any young professional with a world of choice, choose to work for the Nova Scotia Health Authority?

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2 Responses to Lax leadership at the NSHA

  1. buddyboy546 says:

    How very negative and, sadly, how completely true. It is amazing that our health care workers provide the fine care that they do in spite of the incompetence of their employers. Imagine how good our system would be with effective leadership. When are they going to open up their management meetings to public scrutiny? They clearly have much to hide behind those tightly closed doors.

    • Why would the executive change this late in the game? They’ve successfully bullied governments formed by all three parties and court opposition politicians with the carrot of cooperation – if only that party would fully fund operations when they form a government.

      The executives are aided by a board of directors who are little more than place-keepers, people whose blind adherence to the executive wishes make all decisions legal.

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