Health authority hopes new ambulance policy will alleviate ER overcrowding

The Nova Scotia Health Authority has introduced new policies at five emergency departments, including in Truro, to try and tackle the long-standing problem of hospital overcrowding.

Madonna MacDonald, the vice-president of health services for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, tells CTV Atlantic the previous goal of having ambulances offload patients in 20 minutes 90 per cent of the time has been replaced with a flat target of 30 minutes.

MacDonald says they also have a target of 12 hours to have an individual, when admitted, moved up to the unit that's most appropriate for their service.

In a statement, EHS says their operations have been part of a number of patient-centered changes being implemented by the NSHA, and that they feel confident the new policies will improve patient flow.

The changes, which came into effect yesterday, apply to the QEII, Dartmouth Regional, Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro, Valley Regional, and the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

The NSHA says they hope the policy will eventually spread to other sites across the province.

(With files from CTV Atlantic, CTV Atlantic's Natasha Pace)