Nova Scotia NDP calling for inquiry into ER deaths amid ‘awful trend’

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Nova Scotia NDP calling for inquiry into ER deaths
WATCH: The NDP is calling on the province to conduct an investigation into emergency room deaths. The move comes after a 37-year-old Nova Scotia woman died while waiting seven hours for care at an Amherst hospital. New data also shows more people died in emergency rooms in 2022 when compared to previous years. Skye Bryden-Blom reports. – Jan 11, 2023

The Nova Scotia NDP is calling on the province to conduct an inquiry into deaths in Nova Scotia’s emergency rooms, after hundreds of deaths were recorded in the past year.

In a Wednesday morning release, the party said “people are increasingly worried about the state of emergency care in Nova Scotia.”

This comes after the death of 37-year-old Allison Holthoff at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre emergency room on New Year’s Eve.

Gunter Holthoff told reporters on Monday his wife waited in excruciating pain at the Amherst hospital.

“She said, ‘I think I’m dying. Don’t let me die here,’” Holthoff said.

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Allison Holthoff, a mother of three, died that night.

Allison Holthoff, 37, died on Dec. 31, 2022 after waiting seven hours at a Nova Scotia emergency department, her husband says. Facebook/Ali Holthoff

The death prompted Alexandra Rose, the provincial co-ordinator for the Nova Scotia Health Coalition, to wonder, “when is the breaking point?” Rose told Global News on Tuesday the province’s health-care system is in a “dire situation.”

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Nova Scotia health advocate wonders ‘when is the breaking point’ after ER death

The NDP said Wednesday that a Freedom of Information Act request showed the number of deaths in Nova Scotia ERs has been steadily increasing over the past two years, with 2022 reaching a six-year high.

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There were 558 emergency room deaths recorded last year, the party said, up from 505 in 2021.

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In the last six years, 2,950 deaths were recorded.

The party also noted that 43,000 people left the ER without ever being seen by a doctor in 2022.

Nova Scotia NDP leader Claudia Chender said constituents want to know how the government will “reverse this awful trend.”

“An inquiry into emergency room deaths would help Nova Scotians understand what’s going on in our hospitals and what needs to be done to ensure no other family faces the same tragic situation as the Holthoff’s,” Chender said in a release.

In a Wednesday interview, Chender said “while there’s a tension from this particular tragic story of this family, what we are concerned about is making sure that the system gets better.”

She said while the PC government has talked about quality reviews, the results of those are never made public.

“And they aren’t conducted by independent bodies of any kind or independent experts,” Chender said.

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“This government was elected to fix health care, and health care is getting worse.”

Chender said even she, as an elected official and the leader of a party in Nova Scotia, doesn’t know the full story.

“I don’t really know what’s happening and therefore I don’t really know how to fix it,” she said. “I think a public conversation about what is very private in terms of how these situations are dealt with is long overdue.”

— With files from Rebecca Lau and Skye Bryden-Blom. 

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