Waits by paramedics to drop off patients at Winnipeg hospitals soared in the first three months of this year.
In January, the average drop-off time hit a record of 83.3 minutes. In 2011, the average wait was 66 minutes to off-load a patient.
The new stats, obtained by the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party, show that the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is failing to reverse a trend that has seen off-load times rising for years.
A year and a half ago, the WRHA set a goal of off-loading all ambulance patients arriving at local hospitals within 60 minutes by 2015. But the latest numbers show that it’s losing ground in attaining this goal.
The average off-load time in 2013 was 75.6 minutes.
The longer waits occurred despite several government initiatives to take the strain off hospital emergency rooms by steering non-emergency patients to other forms of care.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is fined by the City of Winnipeg when paramedics wait longer than 60 minutes to off-load patients. The patients don’t necessarily wait in the ambulance but are attended to by paramedics in the emergency-room area until they can be transferred.
In 2013, off-load fees charged to the WRHA exceeded $1.4 million.