"It's time for this Liberal government to wake up, admit there is a crisis, and together we will work to find solutions in the best interest of Nova Scotians." — Jason MacLean, NSGEU President
Halifax (14 March 2018) — Conditions at the Halifax Infirmary (HI) Emergency Department have reached a dangerous tipping point where patient and health care worker safety are at-risk, says Jason MacLean, President of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE).
Most-traveled premier won't take time to see health crisis first-hand
"Last night at the HI Emergency Department there were up to 17 ambulances backed up, waiting over 10 hours to get the emergency care they need," says MacLean. "If Stephen McNeil can find time to be the most-traveled premier in the country, surely he can find time to visit the Halifax Infirmary Emergency Department so he can see for himself the chaos that patients and health care workers are experiencing on a daily basis."
The NSGEU/NUPGE report, Code Critical, highlighted the issue of the increasing number of ambulance arrivals.
The number of ambulance arrivals at the HI ED has steadily increased since 2014. In December of 2016, there were 1,511 ambulance arrivals — the highest number of any month in the previous 2 years. In a 2015 Metro article, Dr. Campbell reported that on March 2 "there were 12 ambulances waiting to off-load patients [with] nowhere to put them." NSGEU/NUPGE members in the Emergency Department told the union it was common to have multiple ambulances waiting while paramedics stayed in the Emergency Department hallway with their patients. One nurse reported a recent incident where there were 14 ambulances backed up while paramedics waited with patients. When ambulances are waiting to off-load patients at the ED, ambulance coverage around the Halifax Regional Municipality suffers.
Patient and worker safety at risk
"Frontline health care workers are doing the best they can, but this crisis is the responsibility of Stephen McNeil, and his continuing denial that a crisis exists. It's cold comfort for the patients who are left waiting on an ambulance stretcher for more than 10 hours just to be seen by a doctor," says MacLean. "Due to the staff shortages, nurse resource team nurses, who normally work on inpatient floors, are now being assigned to the Emergency Department where they have no Emergency Department experience. This kind of chaos puts the safety of health care workers and patients at-risk, doing nothing is no longer an option."
"This requires immediate action. Will the Premier set aside time in the next week to meet me at the Halifax Infirmary Emergency Department so he can shake the hands and hear the stories from the many dedicated women and men who are doing their best to provide emergency care while surrounded by chaos?" asks MacLean. "It's time for this Liberal government to wake up, admit there is a crisis, and together we will work to find solutions in the best interest of Nova Scotians."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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