ER wait times a priority?

    Not for McGuinty

    TORONTO, Oct. 2 /CNW/ - Dalton McGuinty arrives late to the idea of
reducing emergency room wait times. Today he tried to claim he was being bold
with his promise but what was the response two years ago when emergency room
doctors came to Queen's Park pleading for the government to make emergency
room wait times a priority? It was a flat no.
    Here is Dalton McGuinty's record when it comes to reducing wait times in
Ontario's emergency rooms:
    In 2003, Dalton McGuinty promised to "unclog ERs" but, under his
government, wait times in Ontario's emergency rooms have gone up - and Dalton
McGuinty and his Minister of Health, George Smitherman have consistently and
repeatedly rejected any and all attempts to have emergency rooms included in
the wait times program.

    November 22, 2005

    Smitherman dismissed the Coalition of Physicians in Emergency (COPE) as a
rogue group of doctors. When asked if he would make emergency room waits a
priority, Smitherman said "no."

    January 2006

    After sitting on it for four months, Smitherman finally released the
"Report of the Hospital Emergency Department and Ambulance Effectiveness
Working Group," the so-called "Schwartz Report". The Schwartz Report's
recommendation 4.1 said Smitherman should "ensure that optimization of
(emergency department) processes of care is a strategic priority...." The
report goes on to say:

    "It has become increasingly clear that ED LOS may be related to the
    government's Wait Time Strategy. On the one hand, improving access to the
    five key well as improving access to critical care may
    decrease the load on EMS and ED services. However, it is also possible
    that resource allocation to these services could result in a reduction of
    resources dedicated to EDs or to in-patient beds such as those in General
    Internal Medicine, which do not directly support the areas of focus of
    the health reform agenda. Therefore, an opportunity must be found to
    explore synergies between the recommendations of the HED&AE Working Group
    and the current Wait Time Strategies."

    Smitherman ignored this recommendation.

    October 2006

    After a summer that saw several Ontario hospitals forced to close, or
come close to closing, their emergency rooms Smitherman released the
"Improving Access to Emergency Care: Addressing System Issues, August 2006."
Like the Schwartz Report, this report, done jointly by the OHA, the OMA, and
the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care says that emergency room wait times
need to be a priority. The report's very first recommendation calls for the
establishment of targets for ER wait times.
    Smitherman ignored this recommendation, too.

    January 2007

    Data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows that
wait times in Ontario's emergency rooms are on the rise. Across the province,
people are waiting in excess of 7 hours in ERs. In Toronto, they're waiting
more than 12 hours.

    October 2007

    So here we are nearly two years after emergency room doctors pleaded with
McGuinty and Smitherman for ER wait times to be made a priority. We have two
reports that have made similar recommendations that have been ignored. And
now, weeks before the election, Dalton McGuinty is asking the voters of
Ontario to believe him that he can be trusted to do the right thing -
    The question that the voters of Ontario are going to ask is - if
emergency room wait times are so important to him, where's he been for the
last four years and why should they trust him to keep his promise?

    Leadership Matters.

For further information:

For further information: Mike Van Soelen, (647) 722-1760

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