REGINA – The Saskatchewan Opposition says long wait times in the province’s emergency rooms are prompting a lot of people to leave without being treated. The NDP’s Cam Broten said in the legislature Tuesday that last year, 18,000 people registered with a triage nurse at hospitals in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford, then left without seeing a doctor.
He said in Prince Albert, 15 per cent of patients that required urgent care and 10 per cent of people needing emergency care left before being seen.
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Premier Brad Wall responded that wait times are consistent in Saskatoon and Regina, but he won’t be satisfied until the wait times are reduced to zero.
Wall said his government has increased funding to reduce that number and has laid out a foundation to determine what needs to be done.
He also asked the NDP what their plan is for dealing with emergency wait times, with a provincial election looming early next year.
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Meanwhile, the Opposition pointed out some alarming statistics in Saskatchewan’s north when it comes to suicide rates. Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger said suicide rates in one northern Saskatchewan health region are 3.5 times higher than the national average.
Belanger said the number of youth hospitalized for suicide attempts in the northern part of the province is 300 per cent higher than the rest of the province and in the far north, the number climbs to 625 per cent.
He said there needs to be more accessible mental health and addictions services, and better opportunities for housing, education and employment.
Health Minister Dustin Duncan said they are working on spreading services and protocols up north and in other areas of the hospital, including emergency services and long-term care.
He said the issue doesn’t just relate to health, but also includes education, social services, various agencies, and the community to find solutions.