Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann are relieved the Government and Alberta Health Services are finally implementing a series of Liberal solutions to improve EMS service for all Albertans. But more needs to be done.
Khan stated, “On Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, Alberta Liberals recommended that Paramedics be hired and placed in emergency rooms to facilitate patient transfers. We also suggested the community paramedic program be expanded. Now, in December, the Government and AHS have finally decided to hire 100 paramedics for that very purpose. Albertans were being forced to wait an hour or more in ER hallways due to system problems. AHS also addressed our concern to increase supports for the mental health of paramedics suffering from stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, overwork, and low moral. It's about time.”
Swann stated, “We provided constructive solutions to AHS after spending months researching this problem and consulting with health practitioners and the community. Liberal pressure finally forced them to act. Alberta Liberal data concluded paramedics spent 653,000 hours—135,000 hours of costly overtime—waiting for patient transfers in a year. That was wasteful and compromised response times. There were on average 35 “Red Alerts” (when there are no available EMS crews to respond to the volume of 911 calls) per month across Alberta. That compromised patient safety. That is unacceptable to Albertans.”
Khan added, “Alberta Liberals set up an EMS Hotline on July 19 for Albertans and healthcare workers to call confidentially and express their concerns with the current service. Health Minister Sarah Hoffman criticized the Liberals as being “irresponsible”—in her words—for giving Albertans an opportunity to inform the NDP Government about the EMS crisis. AHS employees told us they didn’t feel safe expressing their concerns through normal channels. Minister Hoffman apparently needed almost five months to assess the problem and respond. We think we did what was right and necessary for Albertans. We wish the NDP wasn’t so slow to address their concerns.”
Khan continued, “We have more suggestions that could be adopted. Paramedics identified misuse of ERs by the public as a major issue. AHS needs to raise public awareness about when and when not to use ERs. We need to maximise the use of advanced technology and create streamlined handover procedures to boost efficiencies.
“The overarching issue is reducing access block in our hospitals by providing more community and continuing care. These need to be a long term priority..
“We are pleased that some our solutions have been adopted. But we will be pushing for more changes and improvements. Albertans deserve the best EMS service.”
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