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This article was published 3/5/2011 (2604 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Progressive Conservative provincial government would slash bureaucratic waste within the health-care system to reduce ambulance wait times at hospitals, Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen said Tuesday.
The Tories' renewed pledge came as McFadyen tabled results from a freedom-of-information request during question period that shows between September 2010 and January 2011, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service ambulances spent more than 15,000 hours waiting at city emergency rooms while patients were admitted.
"What we've seen under the NDP is a lot of focus on building up bureaucracy," McFadyen said in an interview. "Our focus would be on ensuring that our front-line care-delivery services are working as effectively and efficiently as we can get them working.
"We're going to take resources from overhead and bureaucracy and put it into front lines."
Health care takes up almost 40 per cent of the province's $11.3-billion budget and is growing as the population ages.
McFadyen's words come three weeks after WFPS Chief Jim Brennan issued an ultimatum to city hospitals — starting next year, let paramedics drop off patients within 30 minutes or pay a fee.
One-third of city ambulances are waiting to unload patients at emergency rooms at any given time. The average wait or off-load time is 62 minutes.
A Winnipeg woman said Tuesday that her aunt was rushed to hospital by ambulance on Monday but had to wait five hours to see a doctor. At one point, she said five paramedics were with her aunt waiting for her to be admitted.
"What really gets me going about this is that this would have paid for an insulin pump for my daughter," she said. "The money that was wasted with them sitting there was huge. My 14-year-old daughter has Type I diabetes and the provincial government won't pay for pump therapy for kids but it will pay thousands each day to have these professionals and their vehicles sit idle for hours."
Health Minister Theresa Oswald said what's missing from the Tories' position on ambulance wait times is that paramedics handle about 5,000 calls a month, and that they can't "dump and run" patients. They must wait to turn a patient over to a physician or nurse.
"I don't know about the Tories, but I know if I have a loved one that's being rushed to a hospital by ambulance, I don't want them dumping my loved one off on the curb," Oswald said. "I actually want them to do transition and all the things you need to do with patient safety."
However, Oswald said the province is trying to reduce off-load times by allowing paramedics to take less serious calls to the Misericordia General Hospital urgent-care centre.
"You know, 911 and the ambulances don't go through a long rigamarole saying, 'What? You have shampoo in your eyes?' They go."