Queen’s Park – During question period Thursday, Peggy Sattler, London West NDP MPP, demanded the Wynne government stop blocking a project to help thousands of mental health patients in London.
“London health providers and emergency service personnel have been asking for months for the minister of health to approve this project as a pilot, to allow it to go ahead. The minister told the media yesterday that the project is already underway, but in fact, it is being held up on his desk,” Sattler said.
The minister of health responded by categorically refusing to sign off on the project.
More than a year ago, London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), CMHA Middlesex, and Middlesex-London EMS partnered on an innovative approach to divert 3,000 mental health patients each year from the psychiatric emergency department to the CMHA crisis centre. Provincial legislation, however, only allows ambulance transfer directly to a public hospital, not to a community-based crisis centre.
“The mental health crisis in my community keeps getting worse,” Sattler said. “On Monday this week, LHSC psychiatric emergency was at 152 per cent capacity with 26 mental health patients waiting for beds. This ER diversion project could save about $2.5 million annually by reducing the need for ambulances to transfer patients to the ER first and then wait – sometimes for hours – before they can transfer patients to the crisis centre.”
These savings could be re-invested in London mental health services to fund crisis centre nursing staff, and to allow LHSC to place mental health patients in beds rather than hallway stretchers.