Yesterday, the Liberal government proposed to regulate non-emergency patient transfers via legislation. However, as the legislature has stopped sitting and will not sit until after the fall election, the proposal may be moot.
In recent years, patient transfers have been moved from Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to patient transfer operations. While EMS is largely provided by not-for-profit public organizations, patient transfer operations are often run by for-profit businesses. These businesses generally make their trucks looks like ambulances and the public often thinks they are ambulances. There is little if any regulation of these businesses, and that sparked an unfavorable report from CBC radio on the sub-sector as well as comment from the Ombudsman.
The government is only promising to set 'core standards' for non-emergency patient transfers between health care facilities, so even if passed, it sounds like the government is limiting expectations regarding how much regulation will be placed on this sub-sector. It is, however, possible that legislation could increase the roles that non-emergency patient transfer organizations play.
The government is promising consultations, but there is no word yet on when that might occur.
With the growing regionalization of health care services, patients transfers between health care facilities is a growing business, and is likely to continue to grow. The government estimates there are currently between 400,000 and 500,000 non-emergency patient transfers per year.
For the full release from the government click here.