Queen’s Park – During question period Monday, Peggy Sattler, NDP MPP for London West, took the Wynne government to task for continuing to block a mental health project to help thousands of Londoners.
This was fifth time MPP Sattler has brought the question to the Wynne government over a period of two months.
“Last week London Health Sciences Centre’s mental health ER was at 146 per cent capacity with 18 patients waiting for beds. This was not an isolated spike, as the Wynne government knows, this has been the reality in London for years,” said Sattler.
“Yet the minister of health continues to sit on a pilot project proposal that was submitted by my community last fall to allow the ambulance transfer of non-acute mental health and addictions patients directly to the crisis centre instead of the hospital emergency room.
“I understand that there was a meeting last Friday afternoon with ministry staff at which several options were discussed. What was not discussed was the pilot project itself. What my community wants to know is: is the pilot project on or off the table as a solution to the mental health crisis in London?”
As the capacity crisis at the hospital keeps getting worse, patients are suffering more, and waiting longer — often stuck in an ambulance bay, waiting for the crowded ER to have room to bring them inside. As a result, the costs associated with ambulances having to wait at the hospital are increasing.
The pilot project is estimated to divert as many as 3,000 people from the hospital ER each year, generating savings of $2.5 million. More importantly, instead of waiting six hours or more to be seen at the hospital, a patient could access care at the crisis centre in as little as 20 minutes.
Despite the efforts of local health care providers, who have been working for more than a year to develop the pilot project, Health Minister Eric Hoskins said during question period that there was “an absence of a workable idea” within the proposal.
“This pilot project could be in place within a month, providing an immediate solution to ease some of the pressure on the hospital ER,” said Sattler. “Will the premier commit to doing what is necessary to allow the pilot project to proceed?”