The tens of thousands of absences in the health network are forcing six emergency rooms to partially close this summer in Quebec. The Minister of Health admits that there could be load shedding if the situation with COVID-19 were to deteriorate as in Europe.
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After two years of pandemic, the Minister of Health Christian Dubé wanted to be transparent with Quebecers: “It will be even more difficult” in the health network and emergencies this summer.
There are 8,000 more absentees this year in the network, compared to last year. In total, nearly 60,000 people are missing from the network.
“We are going to have difficulties in general,” he said. The holidays promised to employees exhausted by the pandemic will make the situation in the network much more difficult, he believes.
“Our government has made a very clear commitment to nurses and all staff that there will be vacations this summer,” said the minister.
However, it is above all staff on sick leave that inflates the number of absentees. “We also have long COVIDs. I think we have about 800. That's a lot. It's unfortunate and that's how it is. That's why it's important to give vacations, ”reports Mr. Dubé.
The obstetrics and neonatology sectors will be particularly affected by the reorganization planned for the next few weeks.
"For women who give birth, Quebec has set up a service of nurses who can go on request to help specifically," said the minister.
“Yes, it will be a difficult summer, we know that we will have service reorganizations or service corridors. But we made an effort to minimize the impact during the summer.
- Listen to Patrick Déry's interview with the CEO of the Patient Protection Council, Paul Brunet on QUB radio:
Possible load shedding
Although the COVID-19 situation in hospitals does not seem to be an issue for the moment, the minister does not exclude that there may be load shedding. At the moment, Europe is experiencing a surprising wave of COVID that could arrive in Quebec within a few weeks.
“There is still stability, compared to last summer,” he says. “But for sure, if we saw it going, well, there might be some load shedding to do if we needed it.”
For the moment, Christian Dubé ensures that the situation of surgeries is stable. “We are able to stay at the level of activity that we have. That's our goal. You have to find the compromise between giving the holidays and doing [the surgeries]. Of course we would like that, to attack late surgeries much more, ”he said.
Today, Quebec has 157,000 overdue surgeries. "In the summer, the requests for surgeries also drop [...] I think the best compromise is to have a minimum impact on our emergencies and, at the same time, to be able to do surgeries, among others those who have been late for more than a year, ”he calculates.
Liberal spokesman Monsef Derraji says the government has failed on health care.
“The CAQ had promised Quebecers 90 minutes of waiting in the emergency room to see a doctor. The government of François Legault has failed so much in managing access to front-line care that it must now close the emergency room,” he pleads. “Health issues don’t take vacations!”