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Nova Scotia election: New Democrats promise to reduce ambulance wait times


Halifax–Nova Scotia's New Democrats are promising to open more collaborative emergency centers to improve wait times for ambulances if the party is elected to govern on Aug. 17.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill, speaking on Day 20 of the provincial election campaign, pointed to the case of Anne MacPhee, a woman whose husband died after waiting 34 minutes for an ambulance—even though they lived three kilometres from a hospital in Halifax.

Burrill issued a statement accusing the incumbent Liberals of failing to fix the persistent problem during two terms in office.

The NDP leader says this "failure of the healthcare system'' is costing people's lives.

Earlier this year, a study of Nova Scotia's privately operated ambulance service found that ambulances spend too much time offloading patients at hospitals.

The report, written by consultants with Fitch and Associates, also found ambulances are often tied up transferring patients between facilities.

The consultants said Nova Scotia's current model doesn't take advantage of the medical sophistication paramedics can provide because all patients that accept assistance must be transported to hospital.

During a campaign event today, Burrill repeated his party's pledges to reduce mental health wait times by opening 14 "same-day-next-day'' mental health care centres, and to ensure every senior in long-term care has their own room so they don't languish in hospital beds.

"(Premier) Iain Rankin and the Liberals have had eight years to fix the problems in health care and instead things have gotten worse,'' Burrill said. "There is nothing more fundamental to emergency care than getting an ambulance on site to someone in need.''

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