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Halifax doctors worry announced ER improvements won’t work due to lack of beds

HALIFAX — A group of emergency room doctors in Halifax say they worry government changes announced for the province’s stressed emergency departments won’t address the problem.

The open letter to Premier Tim Houston signed by 39 doctors says the real problem is the “overuse” of emergency departments which lack bed space.

The letter released today says patients wait for hours at the Halifax Infirmary emergency department because there is nowhere to put the next patient that needs care.

The group says hospitals are so filled with admitted patients that there are no beds available for those who come through the emergency department, resulting in overcrowded ERs and delays in admitting patients who arrive by ambulance.

The government measures announced Wednesday included the creation of doctor-led triage teams to focus on admitting patients more quickly to ERs and assigning more physician assistants and nurse practitioners to emergency departments.

Health Minister Michelle Thompson said the urgency to implement the changes was prompted by the recent deaths of two patients following lengthy waits for treatment in emergency departments.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2023.

The Canadian Press