EDMONTON, AB (February 4, 2013): Today, Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth is asking for Health Minister Fred Horne to provide concrete details after he announced he would halt his catch-all ambulance centralization plans and provide “new options” for midsized municipalities to continue using their integrated ambulance dispatch services. As a result of Horne’s push to consolidate ambulance dispatch services, scarce emergency medical units jump from region to region to cover for ones sent away on non-emergency, inter-facility transfers (IFTs) to major cities, leaving entire corridors of the province dark.
In November, after months of denying this was leading to spiking wait times and increasing pressure on front line staff, Horne made a similar announcement to Monday’s when he said: “I want Albertans to know we are actively exploring options to move IFT outside the EMS system in order to ensure we are not tying up local resources that are needed for emergencies.” After months of inaction however, Forsyth said municipalities deserve some concrete details on what “new options” will be available to them, so they can effectively plan for the future. “It’s time for the minister to provide some deliverables,” Forsyth said. “Monday’s announcement was welcome, but frankly, we’ve heard it before. What are the options?” Wildrose Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier said he’s disappointed with how much time Horne’s wasted on the issue so far. He said he’s been questioning Horne in the legislature on this issue for months, and it’s been like pulling teeth. “The IFT issue puts patients at risk each day Horne refuses to take action on it, and this is frustrating for patients and their families,” Stier said. “Before Horne committed to finding new ‘options’ last November, he denied there was even a problem. Then, after he conceded there was a problem and committed to solving it, I asked him to provide details, but again he had none. Albertans deserve answers.” VIDEO of Wildrose MLAs addressing rural ambulance dispatch can be found below. Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier: October 28th and November 5th in Question Period. Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Gary Bikman: October 29th in Question Period. Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Bruce Rowe: November 5th Members Statement.