Patients transferred from one hospital to another will no longer be charged ambulance fees, the P.E.I. government announced this morning.
© Guardian photo
Island EMS ambulance
“Our government is committed to reducing wait times and improving access to care by ensuring every hospital and health facility is being used to the best of its potential to provide timely, quality care to Islanders,” said Health Minister Doug Currie.
“That means patients will sometimes visit more than one hospital over the course of their care. However, patients shouldn’t be burdened with the cost of the ambulance. Instead, they should be focused on their recovery.”
Last spring, Currie announced changes to the way hospitals are utilized across the province.
Patients treated at acute-care hospitals such as the QEH who need ongoing recovery time in hospital are now transferred by ambulance to one of the smaller rural hospitals for their extended care.
But this raised questions about who would pay the $150 ambulance fee for these transfers, especially since the transfers were not being made at the request of the patients but rather as a result of a change in government policy.
Effective immediately, all ambulance transfers between hospitals will be provided free of charge.
An ambulance dedicated solely to transferring patients from one hospital to another will also hit the roads in P.E.I. next month.
This unit, first announced last April, will free up other ambulances to respond to emergencies. It will also help keep other ambulances in Island communities.
The new transfer ambulance is able to transfer up to four patients at a time. It will begin transferring patients early in January.
“Government recognizes that improving ambulance services in rural Prince Edward Island is a priority for Islanders,” Currie said.
“That’s why we’ve increased investments in ambulance services, expanded the provincial ambulance fleet and introduced two rapid response units in eastern and western Prince Edward Island. This new transfer ambulance will further strengthen emergency services in our province.”