The province has approved the business plans of Nova Scotia’s nine district health authorities. A key government commitment is timely approval of authorities’ budgets, and the plans were approved in record time so authorities can continue to provide quality care for Nova Scotians while planning future improvements. “The province asked the DHAs to put patients first and to ensure that Nova Scotians receive better care sooner,” said Maureen MacDonald, Minister of Health and Wellness. “These plans control cost pressures and are consistent with the province’s plan to live within its means.” Health-care costs have doubled over the past 10 years. This marks the first time in a decade that the budgets have not increased. In developing this year’s plans, patient care, mental health and addiction services were protected for the year ahead. John Malcom, CEO of the Cape Breton District Health Authority, welcomed the timely approval. “The districts appreciate the quick approval of the business plans,” said Mr. Malcom. “Having the plans approved at the same time supports a consistent approach to health-care delivery across the province, especially where districts are working together on specific projects and initiatives. It also lets us implement our plans as soon as possible and to focus on the work that needs to be done to meet our goals.” The authorities will receive $1.6 billion from the province in 2011-12. The budgets were balanced by identifying efficiencies throughout the system, some restructuring and reducing administrative costs from six to five per cent, more in line with the rest of the country. Recent moves, such as single-group purchasing for all district health authorities, will also help save money with minimal impact on patient care. “Holding spending growth in health care is not easy,” said Ms. MacDonald. “This has been a tough, challenging exercise for those who manage the operations of the health care system. I want to thank the DHAs for their careful, methodical approach to helping achieve a balanced budget. The province’s nine district health authorities are Colchester East Hants, Cumberland, Cape Breton District, Pictou County, and Guysborough Antigonish Strait health authorities, South West Nova Health, South Shore Health, Annapolis Valley Health and Capital District Health.