McGuinty promises to regulate private patient transfer

You might call it the McGuinty Liberals first campaign promise on health care. June 10 the government announced that it would regulate private non-emergency transportation that moves patients between hospitals and other facilities.

The private patient transfer service came under the microscope of the ombudsman’s office in January after Andre Marin said he received more than 60 complaints about the service.

Marin said that patients would be better off calling a cab rather than take one of these unregulated ambulances.

Ontario is the only province not to have regulated these transfers.

It’s allowed private companies to charge hundreds of dollars per patient for transports in old, beat-up ambulances operated by “kids” with no medical training, Marin told the Canadian Press.

“Our investigation uncovered serious issues, from a lack of infection control to unsafe vehicles and poorly trained staff,” Marin stated in a release last week. “These vehicles look like ambulances and are often transporting vulnerable patients. People need to know they can trust these services.”

The New Democrats were critical the Liberals for having waited so long to act. “Anybody who had the health file knew about this, and they did nothing for the eight years that they were in power,” NDP health critic France Gelinas told CP.

The McGuinty government said they would introduce legislation at the earliest possible moment – which at this point will be after the October 6, 2011 election.

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