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Paramedics' patient drop-off times see jump in early 2014

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"Ambulance wait times are excessively long," Conservative leader Brian Pallister said. Photo Store

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.

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