Manitoba invests to reduce medical wait times

Province is hiring, supporting hospital staff

Manitoba invests to reduce medical wait times

Manitoba is looking to increase its healthcare staffing to reduce medical wait times in the province.

The provincial government is making an initial investment of $2.75 million this fiscal year to expand the number of allied health staff and hospital case coordinators.

“By adding positions for physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers, health-care aides and hospital case co-ordinators, we can ensure Manitobans can return from the hospital to their home community safely, reducing weekend bottlenecks in hospital emergency departments in Winnipeg, Brandon and Selkirk,” said Uzoma Asagwara, minister of health, seniors and long-term care. “Our government’s top priority is to fix health care by reducing wait times and ensuring all Manitobans have timely access to care close to home.”

Manitoba will partner with front-line staff to hire dozens of additional care providers at hospitals across the province, noted the minister. Focused and strategic recruitment efforts will begin immediately and are expected to extend into 2024.

The investment will add numbers to the workforce of Winnipeg hospitals as well as Selkirk Regional Health Centre and Brandon Regional Health Centre. 

“Increasing the capacity of social workers, physiotherapists and other allied health workers will support the extremely important roles they play in discharge planning and patient flow, ensuring more patients have the necessary supports in place to be safely discharged in a timely manner,” said Jennifer Cumpsty, executive director of acute care services at Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg. “This investment will enhance the discharge process for these patients, improving patient flow throughout hospitals and helping to address congestion in emergency departments and urgent care centres.”

More than 236,000 (21%) of employees in the health sector worked overtime in 2021, according to a previous report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). They spent 8.2 hours a week of paid overtime and another 5.8 hours per week of unpaid overtime.

Manitoba also committed to working with health-care workers and leaders to ensure front-line providers have the resources and support they need to provide high quality care.

Currently, Manitoba hospitals only have the necessary staff to discharge patients during the week, according to the provincial government. This leaves patients to spend more time in the hospital than is necessary, which has resulted in overcrowding and higher wait times in emergency rooms and urgent care centres, noted the minister. 

Also, the expansion to seven-days-a-week discharge will improve patient flow and the work environment for staff, said Asagwara.

“We know that our health-care system is actually a collection of deeply connected systems,” said Asagwara. “People arrive at hospitals 24 hours a day, seven days a week and this expanded staffing helps ensure our approach to hospital discharges also reflects that reality. There is no single solution for health care, but this is an important and positive step in the right direction.”

Previously, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) called for a pan-Canadian approach to health worker mobility.

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