Skip to main content

Hospital cuts force paramedics to cool their heels in ERs

A new report from Niagara EMS suggests that hospital cutbacks, including the closure of two hospital Emergency Rooms in Fort Erie and Port Colbourne, has resulted in longer "offload delays" for paramedics, as they wait to transfer their patients to hospital staff at the remaining three ERs in the area.

In fact, the offload delays are projected to increase 68% in 2010, reaching 10,000 unit hours for paramedics.

Since the restructuring of hospital ERs last year and the resulting increase in patient arrivals by ambulance to the three remaining ERs, "off-load delays have increased significantly and have now surpassed the previous peak of 7,075 unit hours set in 2008."

Niagara Falls Liberal MPP Kim Craitor said he had heard ambulance off-load delays are increasing and he's concerned about the situation. "I don't disagree with anything they say in that report."  Without sufficient beds to move patients into, the problem will not be resolved, he added.  "Unless they have enough beds, it isn't going to work."

Anne Atkinson, vice-president of patient services with the NHS, said NHS officials meet regularly with EMS staff to discuss off-load delay matters.  She said the report was "no surprise" to the NHS.

The longer paramedics wait for the hospital to take the patient, the less time they're able to respond to other calls in the community.

"Paramedics are trained for quick intervention with patients — to treat them at a scene and get them to the proper place to receive the care they need," Kevin Smith, associate director and deputy chief of EMS, said Wednesday. "They are not trained, necessarily, to provide long-term, ongoing care."

While the provincial government hospital cuts have increased offload delay, the regional municipal government is on the hook for the increased paramedic costs.

Long offload delays also raise the possibility of delays in ambulance response time.  Ambulance response times were used by one municipal candidate in Toronto to call for a greater role for the fire department.


Popular posts from this blog

Public sector employment in Ontario is far below the rest of Canada

The suggestion that Ontario has a deficit because its public sector is too large does not bear scrutiny. Consider the following. 

Public sector employment has fallen in the last three quarters in Ontario.  Since 2011, public sector employment has been pretty flat, with employment up less than 4 tenths of one percent in the first half of 2015 compared with the first half of 2011.

This contrasts with public sector employment outside of Ontario which has gone up pretty consistently and is now 4.7% higher than it was in the first half of 2011.

Private sector employment has also gone up consistently over that period. In Ontario, it has increased 4.3% since the first half of 2011, while in Canada as a whole it has increased 4.9%.

As a result, public sector employment in Ontario is now shrinking as a percentage of the private sector workforce.  In contrast, in the rest of Canada, it is increasing. Moreover, public sector employment is muchhigher in the rest of Canada than in Ontario.  Indeed as…

The long series of failures of private clinics in Ontario

For many years, OCHU/CUPE has been concerned the Ontario government would transfer public hospital surgeries, procedures and diagnostic tests to private clinics. CUPE began campaigning in earnest against this possibility in the spring of 2007 with a tour of the province by former British Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, who talked about the disastrous British experience with private surgical clinics.

The door opened years ago with the introduction of fee-for-service hospital funding (sometimes called Quality Based Funding). Then in the fall of 2013 the government announced regulatory changes to facilitate this privatization. The government announced Request for Proposals for the summer of 2014 to expand the role of "Independent Health Facilities" (IHFs). 

With mass campaigns to stop the private clinic expansion by the Ontario Health Coalition the process slowed.  

But it seems the provincial Liberal government continues to push the idea.  Following a recent second OCHU tour wi…

Hospital worker sick leave: too much or too little?

Ontario hospital workers are muchless absent due to illness or disability than hospital workers Canada-wide.  In 2014, Ontario hospital workers were absent 10.2 days due to illness or disability, 2.9 days less than the Canada wide average – i.e. 22% less.  In fact, Ontario hospital workers have had consistently fewer sick days for years.

This is also true if absences due to family or personal responsibilities are included.
Statistics Canada data for the last fifteen years for Canada and Ontario are reported in the chart below, showing Ontario hospital workers are consistently off work less.
Assuming, Ontario accounts for about 38% of the Canada-wide hospital workforce, these figures suggest that the days lost due to illness of injury in Canada excluding Ontario are about 13.6 days per year ([13.6 x 0.68] + [10.2 x 0.38] = 13.1).

In other words, hospital workers in the rest of Canada are absent from work due to illness or disability 1/3 more than Ontario hospital workers. 

In fact, Canad…