Government Must Fix Provincial Ambulance System
Two NDP MHAs say government must act now to fix the provincial ambulance program before the situation in rural communities gets any worse. Health Critic Gerry Rogers (MHA, St. John’s Centre) and Service NL Critic George Murphy (MHA, St. John’s East) say recent cases have highlighted the urgency.
“The ambulance program is seriously fragmented,” said Murphy. “Urban public ambulance services have better equipment and working conditions. Rural paramedics earn less, have to be on call 24-7, and don’t have the equipment and training they need.”
“It’s a patient safety issue, too,” said Rogers. “Many rural ambulances have Emergency Medical Responders who can only do basic first aid.”
A woman from western Newfoundland contacted the MHAs’ offices this week in frustration. The woman’s son and a senior she cares for both needed ambulances for serious medical conditions. On both occasions, the ambulance arrived without a paramedic and the patient had to be driven to another community and transferred to an ambulance with a paramedic.
“Paramedics are telling us that this is an industry waiting to collapse, and they are leaving the province in droves for better jobs elsewhere,” said Murphy.
Rogers says the government must be aware of the problem because they commissioned a review of ambulance services and have received preliminary results from the consultant. “But now we’re seeing delay after delay in releasing that review to the public,” she said. “Of course they must make a thorough review before their final decisions, but I do hope the department is moving as quickly as is possible on this vital issue.”
“Are they going to use Bill 29 to declare the ambulance review a Cabinet document, and hide it forever? The public needs to see this review. It’s too important to patient and worker safety,” added Murphy.