Question Period: Emergency Room Wait Times – 15 November 2016

Here is the video and transcript of oral questions, recorded in the language in which it was spoken.

M. Coon : Les temps d’attente dans les salles d’urgence de nos hôpitaux sont inacceptables. La norme pour une salle d’urgence en santé est que moins de 4 % des patients deviennent frustrés et partent sans être vus. La plupart des salles d’urgence au Nouveau-Brunswick dépassent cette norme de deux ou trois fois. Plus de 10 % à 12 % des gens attendant dans nos salles d’urgence partent avant d’être vus par un docteur. Le ministre de la Santé peut-il dire à la Chambre comment il va s’assurer que nos hôpitaux atteignent les normes visées?

L’hon. M. Boudreau : Le député d’en face apporte un bon point de vue. Il est certain que nous voulons tous réduire les listes d’attente. C’est pour cela que nous tentons de transformer le système. C’est pour cela que nous travaillons avec les différents professionnels de la santé en vue d’essayer de moderniser le système de soins de santé. C’est pour cela que nous travaillons avec des organismes comme la Société médicale du Nouveau-Brunswick à essayer de changer la manière dont nous offrons les soins primaires. Le but est de pouvoir servir davantage les gens dans leur collectivité et chez eux, plutôt que de les avoir dans nos hôpitaux à occuper des lits, ce qui a une incidence sur les listes d’attente pour les chirurgies. Alors, il y a plusieurs différentes initiatives auxquelles travaille le ministèreprécisément pour traiter de la préoccupation…

Mr. Speaker:
Time, minister.

Mr. Coon: In fact, only about 20% of ER patients can be seen safely outside of a hospital ER. Forty percent of patients coming through our emergency room doors are Status 3 and must be seen by a doctor—40%. The benchmark for those patients is that 80% of them should be seen within 30 minutes. Our ERs are missing this target by four, five, and even six times across this province. This has created a serious patient safety issue. My question is: What is the minister doing to arrest this threat to patient safety?

Hon. Mr. Boudreau: Again, patient safety is something that is very important. Transforming our health care system and modernizing our health care system are things that are a priority for this government. Our three main priorities have been job creation, the economy, and investing more in education and in health care. We are acting on those recommendations. There are many different initiatives that are under way as we speak. The member opposite talks as if we can just flick a switch and everything is going to go away. It is not that simple. We are investing in community health centres, and we are investing in nursing homes. Just this morning, our Premier and Deputy Premier toured the new Downtown Community Health Centre here in Fredericton. This is an investment to try to keep people in the community, out of the ER, and out if the hospital beds up at the DECH. By making these types of investments, by modernizing the system, and by working with our doctors to modernize collaborative practice, this is how we are going to address wait-lists.

Mr. Coon: The patients I am concerned about here are the ones whose conditions get worse,
much worse, while they are sitting in the waiting room waiting to see a doctor, or those who leave in frustration and who are actually very ill, with serious consequences when they get home, and end up back in the hospital by ambulance. ER doctors are permitted to call for extra help in a crisis when there is a train wreck or a plane crash.

My question for the minister is this: Will he direct the health authorities to immediately define the threat posed to patient safety when ERs fail to meet their benchmarks as a crisis so that our ER doctors have the authority to call in the help that they need to safeguard the safety of their patients?

Hon. Mr. Boudreau: I would suggest to the member opposite and to both parties opposite that, if they want to address issues such as the wait-lists, they have to stop opposing every single
reform and every single idea that we bring forward to modernize and revamp our health care system. If we continue to do the same things in the same way over and over again but expect different results, that is simply not going to happen. That is why we need to take innovative approaches like the approach that we are looking at taking with Medavie and innovative approaches like the approach that we are taking with the
New Brunswick Medical Society and collaborative family practices to make sure that patients get same-day and next-day access to their family doctors. That is why my department, along with the department for seniors and the department for families and youth are investing in things like the Home First Strategy to make sure that we are able to care for seniors in the comfort of their own homes. It is better for them. It is better for government. It is better for everybody involved. If only the opposition would . . .

Mr. Speaker: Time, minister. The time for oral questions has expired