Union calls for immediate release of report on ambulance services

The public has a right to know and needs to know result of HQCA investigation.

Edmonton (01 Feb. 2013) – An urgent request has been sent to Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne calling on him to reverse his decision to delay the public release of a report on ground ambulance service in the province.

“This report from the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) was supposed to have been delivered in October 2012. It was delayed until today – and now we are told that Albertans won’t get to see it for another month. This is unacceptable,” says Elisabeth Ballermann, president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE), which represents more than 23,000 paramedical, technical, professional and general support employees in health care.

Ballermann has written to the minister saying: “The HQCA was asked to look into EMS operations a year ago because these are life-and-death issues for Albertans. They have a right to see this report now, so a conversation can begin immediately on solutions. Any delay in releasing the report will cause an unnecessary delay in addressing the problems, thus putting Albertans at unnecessary risk.”

Ballermann says she believes the HQCA report will confirm what frontline workers have been saying for more than a year: Alberta's emergency system is sick and needs treatment. The most recent figures from Alberta Health Services (AHS) tell the same story – a widespread failure to meet targets for wait times at emergency departments in Calgary and Edmonton. “The solution to these problems cannot be found simply by tweaking the limited resources within EMS. The problems faced by EMS are often ones that have been downloaded to them from other areas of health care. For example, Alberta has 5,000 fewer acute-care beds now than it did in 1989, despite an increase in population of nearly 1.4 million. We also have too few long-term care beds. This means our hospitals are full, our emergency rooms are packed and our ambulances are stuck for hours waiting to transfer patients instead of responding to emergencies,” says Ballermann.

“While it may be unpopular to talk about investing money, that is exactly what is needed. An investment in health care and EMS will not only save money in the future by improving efficiency and reducing long-term costs, it will save the lives of Albertans today.

“Earlier this week, Premier Alison Redford talked about the need to maintain spending on social infrastructure, despite the fiscal challenges facing the province. At HSAA, we can think of no more important social infrastructure than public health care, including our vital EMS services,” says Ballermann.

More information: 

HSAA/NUPGE letter to Minister

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

 

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