Cities file complaint with Alberta ombudsman over consolidated ambulance dispatch

Four cities throughout Alberta have collectively filed a complaint with the province’s ombudsman over the UCP authorities’s resolution to permit Alberta Health Services to consolidate regional ambulance dispatch.

“It is unacceptable that we continue to risk people’s lives,” stated Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi in an emailed launch on Wednesday.

“We’ve seen the data and listened to those on the frontline and we know that this dispatch system cannot meet the needs of patients in our cities. We hope that the Alberta ombudsman will consider the severity of the situation and convince our provincial government to make the right decision.”

The 4 mayors have spoken out towards consolidation since July 2020. 

But regardless of their considerations, Alberta Health Services (AHS) formally introduced municipally managed operations in Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo into the three current AHS centres in January 2021.

The transfer was considered one of a number of suggestions made throughout a assessment of AHS by exterior consultants Ernst & Young, which laid the stage for a number of value slicing measures together with doable privatization of some well being companies. 

AHS had stated the consolidation would save thousands and thousands annually and that sufferers would not discover the distinction.

But first responder teams, just like the union representing Calgary firefighters, had expressed considerations that consolidation would trigger delays in coordinated responses.

Prior to the consolidation, firefighters have been typically first on scene in cities like Calgary and Red Deer as calls got here in and have been coordinated between EMS, fireplace and police.

“Our fire trucks would often arrive well in advance of the ambulance, and that is an option that’s no longer available to us,” stated Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer in an interview.

Patient outcomes have suffered, mayors say

Since the centres have been consolidated, the mayors of the 4 municipalities say there have been vital points with service supply which have damage well being and security outcomes of sufferers of their areas — and that some delays have been reported inside the first day of the changeover.

“Seconds count in life and death circumstances … we continue to see the consequences of consolidated dispatch on the ground, and we have an ethical imperative to every Albertan to continue to pursue every avenue possible,” stated Veer.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has beforehand estimated that emergency companies employees needed to intervene in a single in 5 calls in the course of the first few weeks to stop AHS triggered delays, and that in some cases sufferers have been transferred a number of instances or first-responders have been despatched to the fallacious location. 

In one other incident, the mayors stated that AHS skilled a “code red” scenario the place no ambulances have been obtainable, however the native dispatch centre was not notified — if it had, fireplace crews may have been mobilized to help if wanted. 

“Since the province forced a consolidated dispatch system on our communities, we have witnessed the deterioration of ambulance dispatch,” stated Wood Buffalo Mayor Don Scott.

“Our communities have tried every avenue to communicate with the government that this system is flawed and to strongly dispute the effectiveness of it, but our calls for a third party review remain unanswered,” stated Veer.

“We will not be giving up the fight for what we know is in the best interest of patient safety.”

Former Health Minister Tyler Shandro stated in October 2020 that he had reviewed the scenario and allowed AHS to proceed. 

Alberta’s ombudsman Marianne Ryan supplies oversight of provincial authorities businesses, municipalities and different authorities and makes suggestions to resolve points.

CBC has reached out to the ombudsman’s workplace to substantiate if it is going to examine the complaint.

AHS stated in an announcement earlier this month that it was conscious a complaint was being filed.

“Dispatch services were successfully consolidated seven months ago, and the system continues to perform as expected,” learn an announcement attributed to the well being authority in early October.



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