In light of recent troubling stories regarding ambulance transfers, liberal health critic Jean-Claude D’Amours calls on the Higgs government to put an end to non-emergency ambulance transfer limits and to stop hiding crucial information when making government announcements.
“In 2018, Premier Higgs and his right-hand-man Kris Austin held a press conference announcing a new non-emergency ambulance transfer system,” said D’Amours. “It was presented to New Brunswickers as a cost saving measure that would all but solve Ambulance NB’s problems, but they failed to mention that every hospital now has a quota of transfers available per day. According to the information we’ve received, this could be as little as one transfer a day.”
New Brunswick families are speaking out, saying they were forced to find alternative transportation for their loved ones or wait long periods of time for an ambulance to be available. A nurse from Grand-Falls had to pay out of pocket in order to get her mother to a Quebec hospital for a life-saving surgery and the Mayor of Saint-André not only had to drive his father between hospitals, but his father was forced to wait 24h after receiving an urgent surgery in Moncton before having access to an ambulance to return home.
“While patient transportation for scheduled procedures may not be considered as urgent as a heart attack or other medical emergencies, there are situations where transfer to another hospital is required without undue delay,” said D’Amours. “These limits could prevent or delay surgeries or other very serious matters, all while placing undue burden on families.”
The announcement was held on November 19th, 2018 only 10 days after Premier Higgs was sworn into office, and was scheduled to come into effect by the end of March 2019.
“It has been over a year since the announcement and over six months since the system came into effect, yet these quotas are only now coming to light because of distraught patients and their families,” said D’Amours. “The government needs to work with the health networks and Ambulance NB to put an end to these quotas immediately.”
This raises questions surrounding the recent announcement that Paramedics will also be providing some at-home palliative care.
“I think it makes sense that paramedics provide this type of care, I have been pushing for our healthcare professionals to be used at their full potential,” said D’Amours. “However, if paramedics are only able to take on this extra workload because of the ‘free time’ created by the transfer limits, then it is simply unacceptable.”