Why There Are Wait Times

The Province is working to make investments in front-line care and ensure the health system provides good value for money to Nova Scotians.

There are many factors which contribute to wait times:

Changing demand for services

  • We have seen a change in care needs across the province. In Nova Scotia, one in seven people is over the age of 65. In fact, by 2020, we estimate that one-third of Nova Scotians will be seniors.
  • People are living longer which means more people are seeking medical attention. There are also more people with multiple ailments such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and joint problems, all requiring medical attention. 
  • More and more people are seeking treatments, such as joint replacement surgery, at a younger age because of improved outcomes of these procedures. 
  • This means more tests, treatments, and services per person than ever before.

Increasing rates of illness and chronic conditions

  • Nova Scotia has the highest rate of death from cancer and the second highest rate of diabetes in the country.
  • People with ongoing illness or chronic conditions usually need more care.
  • Recent reports show Nova Scotians have the second highest rate of obesity in the country. Obesity can lead to a number of health problems, such as the need for hip and knee replacements; an area with an already high wait list.

Increasing variety of services available

  • More health services than ever before are available. New technologies, tests, and treatments are always becoming available. But some technology is expensive making it challenging to offer all health tests, treatment, and service options across the province.

Keeping rural services staffed

  • Finding and keeping the right mix of health-care professionals across the province is a challenge. For example, when we increase the number of MRI machines in the province, we must also increase the number of staff who can operate the machines. Attracting and keeping health-care professionals is particularly difficult in rural Nova Scotia.

Keeping equipment working

  • Equipment breaks down. Even with the best maintenance programs and ongoing funding, diagnostic equipment may be unexpectedly unavailable. When tests must be rescheduled, it causes a ripple in the system that affects the time others wait for the same diagnostic test.