Ontario Ombudsman to investigate private non-emergency patient transfers

Ombudsman Andre Marin is going to investigate whether the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and the Ministry of Transportation are ensuring adequate measures are in place to protect the public amidst concerns raised about private non-emergency transportation services. These transfers take place in vehicles that are not ambulances, but resemble them.

“We have received dozens of complaints from upset patients, their families, and from whistleblowers with the medical transportation industry who feel that patient safety is being compromised and that the government’s response to these issues has been inadequate,” Marin stated in a press release Tuesday. “Anyone who has had experience with these services is invited to call our office.”

The Ombudsman’s office says concerns raised so far include allegations of patients being injured, unsafe vehicles, a lack of infection control, insufficiently trained staff and a lack of official regulation or oversight.

“It’s about time,” says OPSEU Ambulance Division Chair Jamie Ramage. “The government has given these companies the authority to transfer these patients, however these companies are not held accountable or to a standard when it comes to equipment, patient comfort and care.”

He says while these patients may not necessarily need the services of a paramedic, they should not be denied the basic right of quality, care and comfort.

The special investigation will be completed in 90 days. Those with complaints can do so online at http://www.ombudsman.on.ca or by calling 1-800-263-1830.

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