January 4th, 2019

Holiday stress on ambulance system highlights crisis in emergency care

HALIFAX -- The Liberal government’s indifference to emergency care in Nova Scotia has created overwhelming stress on the system. Communities often have their emergency rooms closed with little notice due to staffing shortages and paramedics are frequently stuck at hospitals waiting to transfer their patients.

“We can’t take much more of this. People need to know they can get emergency care when they need it,” said NDP Health spokesperson Tammy Martin. “To see zero ambulances available in the CBRM is scary.”

The paramedics’ union tweeted over a dozen times during the holidays when communities were short of available ambulances. There was one day where zero ambulances were available in HRM with around 20 ambulances stuck at hospitals waiting to transfer their patients.

“People shouldn’t have to wait endlessly in hospital hallways, or drive hours to get to emergency care,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “It is unconscionable that the McNeil Liberals have allowed our emergency health system to fall into this condition.”

Numbers released before Christmas show unscheduled emergency room closures more than doubled last year. According to the 2018 Accountability Report on Emergency Departments, the number of unscheduled closures went from about 5,400 hours to over 12,000 hours last year.