December 02, 2015

New Emergency Department Waits Target Announced

The provincial government has affirmed its commitment to significantly reduce wait times in hospital emergency departments, establishing a new target of a 60 per cent reduction in wait times by 2019.

“The new target is aggressive and will make Saskatchewan a leader in meeting national guidelines for safe, appropriate and timely care in hospitals and emergency departments,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said.  “The issues that affect emergency department waits are complex and this effort will involve co-ordination across the health system.  I am confident we will be able to achieve this new, ambitious target.”

The ultimate goal continues to be the elimination of emergency room waits.  In 2012, Premier Brad Wall challenged the health system to develop bold new targets to provide better care, better health and better value to patients.

Over the past two years, Saskatchewan’s health regions and other partners have been working with the Ministry of Health and the Health Quality Council of Saskatchewan on strategies to transform the way patient care is planned and delivered across the health system to serve patients better and ultimately reduce emergency department wait times.

The 2015-16 provincial budget provided $4.7 million to support the effort to reduce emergency department waits.  Ongoing initiatives to lower emergency department waits include Connecting to Care (hotspotting), Police and Crisis Team (PACT) in Regina and Saskatoon, and Seniors House Calls.

Teams have been working together to identify the root causes of hospital overcrowding and develop and implement plans to improve access to care in pre-hospital primary care settings, services in hospital and services in the community after a patient leaves hospital.

“It takes time to develop and implement system-wide change,” Emergency Department Waits and Patient Flow Initiative Team Lead Graham Fast said.  “The health system is making a concerted and co-ordinated effort to serve patients better and reduce emergency department wait times.  Innovative changes with positive results are already occurring.  We are committed to working with patients, families, front-line health providers and other partners to improve patient experiences.”