While the province may be making progress in reducing off-load wait times for ambulances at hospitals – which is the word from Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey – people remain concerned about the emergency health care system, says Argyle-Barrington MLA Colton LeBlanc.
“Nova Scotians want to know if the system will be there when they need it,” LeBlanc said in the legislature on Sept. 26. “Will an ambulance arrive in an acceptable time frame when they need it? Data can ease their fears, but where is the data?”
Citing recent instances when paramedics issued warnings about low ambulance availability at certain times, LeBlanc said “this is particularly worrisome” since the new ambulance off-load guidelines were meant to reduce the frequency of this type of situation.
LeBlanc himself has worked in health care for nearly five years as a paramedic. His first question in the house since being elected in an early-September byelection – directed to Delorey – was whether the new emergency off-load standards had had any impact on burnout rates for paramedics.
“I acknowledge that the minister of health and wellness has met with some paramedics and is doing his best to listen to their concerns,” LeBlanc said, “but the persistent state of chaos in the system, and the problems that they’re still dealing with day after day, month after month, it suggests that not enough action or not enough of the right action is being done.”
Delorey said improvements have made and the effort will continue.
“On the topic of (paramedic) burnout,” the minister said, “the feedback that I got from the union representatives is that addressing the off-load time was one of the most important steps that I could take to address the burnout concerns.”
Delorey – who prefaced his answer to LeBlanc by welcoming him to the legislature and congratulating him on his first question in the house – acknowledged the work to improve off-load wait times for ambulances at hospitals is ongoing.
“We’ll continue to work with the Nova Scotia Health Authority, EHS and other health-care partners to seek more improvements,” the minister said.