Niagara politician writing to Ford before evening and weekend surgeries are cancelled in Welland

welland hospital petition

A Niagara politician is voicing his concerns over healthcare to the Premier and Health Minister.

Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch has written to Premier Ford and Minister Sylvia Jones about Niagara Health's plan to end all after-hours emergency surgeries in the evenings and weekends.

Patients needing emergency surgery at Welland's hospital will be transferred to another hospital - during those times - as of Monday, Feb. 27th, 2023.

Burch says his office has been inundated with calls from concerned nurses, doctors and residents about the changes.

"It is also my understanding from communications with front-line staff at Niagara Health that these changes are
intended to be permanent."

He says Niagara Health's five-year strategic plan is also creating anxiety with concerns the Welland Hospital will lose emergency services and shift it to being an “ambulatory site” as of 2028.

Burch is calling on the government to step in and save current services in Welland.

CKTB reached out to Niagara Health to clarify its plans for health care in Niagara to switch to a 'regional model' with two acute care sites and one ambulatory site. 

Niagara Health officials say Welland is the proposed ambulatory location, and it will still continue to have Emergency Services, including 24/7 Emergency Services, eight to 10 observation beds (treatment for patients who may require up to 24 hours of care), and stabilization, transfer, treatment and care co-ordination.
It confirms that when emergency surgeries on the evenings and weekends are cancelled at the end of this month, they will not return to that site.

"At the Welland Site, the operating room will remain in operation from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays for scheduled surgeries including general surgery, ophthalmology and orthopedics (including overnight hip and knee joint cases). Scheduled day stay cases for urology, ENT (ear, nose and throat) and gynecology will shift to the Niagara Falls Site, as will all emergent and urgent cases on evenings and weekends. Emergency surgeries will continue at the Welland Site between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. The St. Catharines Site will continue to receive transfers for vascular surgery and obstetrics cases at all times."

Burch says this will make south Niagara residents second-class citizens when it comes to health care, and ambulance off load delays will mean more people will die waiting for help.

"I have heard from doctors who are gravely concerned, telling us that these changes will result in avoidable patient deaths, especially considering the fact that we are experiencing serious issues with ambulance offload delays and that hospital sites in our region are frequently operating at near or above 100 per cent capacity."

"Our community is deeply concerned and we have collected thousands of signatures to save the emergency department at the Welland Hospital. I would request an immediate meeting with the Ministry of Health to discuss how this government intends to uphold the commitment made in the April motion and ensure that the people of South Niagara have safe, fair and equitable access to healthcare."

Here is a link to the petition.