Cam Broten is prioritizing shorter emergency room (ER) wait times – waits that can be measured in minutes, not hours, the provincial NDP Leader said Thursday.
Delivering a platform commitment in Regina, Broten outlined a promise to meet emergency and urgent 15-minute and 30-minute benchmarks by the end of 2018, and pledged a one-hour maximum wait for all other less urgent cases by the end of 2019.
“Saskatchewan is the birthplace of Medicare, and has been a leader in delivering excellent, caring public health care for generations,” said Broten. “But we’re seeing Saskatchewan lag further and further behind. Patients have become less and less of a priority. Our emergency rooms aren’t even meeting Canadian standards for wait times
“I’ve had the same experience so many Saskatchewan people have had – sitting in an ER waiting room, feeling the worry and heartache that goes with seeing a loved one wait in pain. We have to do better, and I’ll make ER wait times a priority to guarantee that we do better.”
Broten announced three significant initiatives that will help achieve the wait-times goal.
Fast Track system
The NDP will hire 35 nurse practitioners to fast track patients who can be quickly treated and released. For example, if a patient needs a few stitches, instead of waiting for a doctor, the patient can go through the ER’s Fast Track system.
Quick Care clinics
The NDP will open four Quick Care clinics in four years. The extended-hours clinics will be operated by health regions and will take pressure off ERs. For follow-up care, Quick Care clinics will focus on matching patients with ongoing primary care services.
Community Paramedic program
The NDP will implement Community Paramedic pilot programs in Regina and Saskatoon so more people can be treated at home rather than going to the ER.
“The Sask. Party didn’t come anywhere close to meeting any ER targets – in fact, they moved us farther away,” said Broten. “They didn’t prioritize health care when times were good, and now that times are tighter, they’re already making cuts in hospitals. More and more, they’re in it for themselves, not for all of us who count on hospitals and emergency rooms.”