Winnipeg hospital emergency rooms are becoming increasingly clogged by patients scheduled for regular appointments, and the statistics are alarming. Freedom-of-information requests show the number of patients scheduled for regular appointments at Winnipeg ERs in the 2014-15 fiscal year was 16,479 – a huge increase from the 12,841 such patients at ERs in the 2009-10 fiscal year.
“The increase of patients in ERs for regularly scheduled appointments is putting incoming emergency patients at risk, and is forcing many other patients to wait hours past their scheduled times for appointments,” said Opposition Health Critic Myrna Driedger. “The six-year-old son of Donald Lepp was forced to wait five hours at the Children’s Hospital ER this week for a scheduled appointment for an injection.”
The numbers of patients sent to Winnipeg ERs for regularly scheduled appointments have skyrocketed even after a task force said more than a decade ago this practice has to stop. The 2004 Emergency Care Task Force report recommended the number of scheduled appointments at ERs go to zero, and the NDP government has had 11 years to meet this target. Clearly, the NDP is incapable of following through on this recommendation.
If improvements are to be made in accessing emergency care, ERs need to be for emergencies only.