June 14, 2024

Pulse Bliss

most important health challenges

Wait times falling for emergency care and surgeries: Alberta Health Services

Premier Danielle Smith adds that Alberta’s healthcare workers do amazing work and Albertans deserve timely access to the care they need.

“That’s why we embarked on some really ambitious plans to make meaningful changes to our health care system. And it’s working. I’m thrilled to see response times and wait times are already trending in the right direction,” said Smith.

EMS Response Times

Alberta Health Services (AHS) reports that EMS response times have improved by 38 per cent in Calgary, 25 per cent in Edmonton, and an average of 33 per cent in smaller communities.

In “metro and urban areas,” response times have fallen from 21.8 minutes in November 2022 to 12 per cent in April 2023, marking an average improvement of 44 per cent.

AHS said the frequency of “red alerts,” in which there are no available ambulances to respond to a call for service, has decreased significantly.

Calgary was in red alerts for a total of four minutes this April, compared to 254 minutes last November. Likewise, the amount of time spent in red alerts in Edmonton fell from 295 minutes to 10 minutes during the five month period.

Other initiatives undertaken to improve EMS response times include implementing a 45-minute standard target for emergency department patient handovers, using alternative methods for inter-facility transfers when an ambulance is not required, and handing over non-urgent 911 calls for 811 Health Link where appropriate.

Surgery Wait Times

According to a news release from the province, Albertans are now waiting shorter periods of time to have surgeries performed.

A total of 292,000 surgeries were performed over the past year, including 22,100 cancer surgeries.

The surgical wait list for all types of operations, as of April 17, 2023, is 66,900 people.

Compared to the beginning of the 2022-23 fiscal year, there are approximately 7,000 fewer patients on the adult surgical waitlist and 11,190 fewer patients who are waiting longer than the clinically recommended times.

Approximately 75 per cent of pediatric patients had their surgeries done within the clinically recommended times, as did 86 per cent of cardiac patients.

Emergency Department Wait Times

AHS said patients in emergency departments are having to wait for smaller amounts of time on average.

Between November 2022 and March 2023, the typical wait time to see an ED doctor fell by 17 per cent from 7.1 hours to 5.9 hours.

The amount of time spend in EDs for admitted patients is also down, declining from 42 hours to 31 hours, or 26 per cent.

The health services agency attributed this to transferring eligible patients to continuing care living options where appropriate and opening 1,250 new continuing care spaces over the last year.

Hiring Health Workers

The province said it continues to hire more doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, paramedics, and other allied health professionals across the province.

They say approximately 1,100 more nursing staff have been hired by AHS since January 1, 2022, including 85 per cent of all registered nurses who graduated in Alberta in 2022-23.

As well, 457 new EMS staff members were given jobs in 2022, including 341 paramedics.

READ MORE: Government of Alberta announces healthcare reforms

READ MORE: Emergency health care wait times falling in Alberta