What is government's plan to deal with increasing ER wait times?

I am extremely concerned about Dr. Jain’s announcement last week that wait times at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital are increasing significantly due to shortages of board certified emergency physicians and emergency trained nurses. Anyone who has attended the ER already knows wait times are often hours long for urgent care.

So, with this new announcement that those wait times are increasing significantly, what does this mean for Islanders who need to access ER services? What is the plan for the QEH to address this shortage? Will it mean bed closures in the emergency room?

While Dr. Jain assures Islanders that emergency care will not be impacted, it does raise concern about the impacts down the road. If urgent care is not provided in a timely fashion, it could quickly become an issue requiring emergency care. When that inevitably happens, what is government’s plan to deal with that? It isn’t enough to kick it down the road to deal with later.

The King government has already admitted it is unable to address the root cause of doctor and nursing recruitment and retention. The Premier himself said that it is unrealistic for Islanders to expect access to primary care through a family doctor. Many Islanders are also unable to access walk-in clinic services due to inconsistent hours or lack of services in their region. All this means the alternative is often a visit to the ER for care. His government is also exploring ways to privatize health care by outsourcing critical services. Will closing beds be the next step for this government?

This situation should come as no surprise to anyone in government and especially to Minister Hudson and Premier King. Unions have been warning of critically low numbers of frontline workers for months, telling us that if something wasn’t done services would be impacted. This is a symptom of a system that has been strained for a long time.

It has been seven days since Dr Jain’s interview, and so far, crickets from government on what they plan to do to fill the gap in services that this will cause.

Government should have a well thought-out and clear plan for how they will address this. I am calling on government to release that plan immediately. I am also asking the Minister to consider offering additional clinics throughout the week nights and weekends. People need somewhere to go. We need government to address this immediately.

Michele Beaton, MLA
Mermaid-Stratford

Official Opposition Critic for Health and Wellness