Ombudsman to investigate province’s handling of ambulance service complaints
Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé today announced an investigation into how the province oversees patient complaints and incident reports about ambulance services.
TORONTO (May 1, 2018) – Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé today announced an investigation into how the province oversees patient complaints and incident reports about ambulance services.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Emergency Health Regulatory and Accountability Branch, which oversees ambulance services, has been notified. The investigation will be conducted by the Special Ombudsman Response Team (SORT), which handles investigations of potential systemic issues.
Mr. Dubé said his decision to launch the probe was prompted by complaints from families of patients about the Ministry’s reviews of serious incidents – which are required whenever someone being transported in an ambulance is harmed, dies or suffers as a result of delays or similar issues.
The investigation will look at the adequacy of the Ministry’s investigations, as well as how it determines whether to refer complaints to ambulance service providers for investigation. It will also examine the Ministry’s involvement in, and oversight of, service providers’ investigations.
Although his office has worked with the Ministry to resolve complaints as they arose, these cases, along with information Ombudsman staff gathered in dealing with them, indicated a potential systemic problem, Mr. Dubé said.
“This is not about re-investigating what happened to specific patients,” Mr. Dubé said. “It is about ensuring that the frontline investigation processes and procedures in which Ontarians place their trust are robust, and the Ministry’s oversight of them is transparent and responsive to the people for whom these are literally matters of life and death.”
Ombudsman investigations have sparked reforms to several provincial investigative bodies, including those that look into private daycare centres, the use of force by correctional officers, and incidents of death or serious injury involving police.
Mr. Dubé asked that anyone who has information relevant to the investigation contact his office by calling 1-800-263-1830, or by filing an online complaint form at www.ombudsman.on.ca, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 2005, SORT has conducted dozens of major investigations into issues affecting large numbers of Ontarians. The recommendations stemming from these investigations have been overwhelmingly accepted, resulting in reforms to school bus service for students in Toronto’s public and Catholic schools, improved tracking and monitoring of inmates held in segregation in Ontario’s jails, and expanded supports for adults with developmental disabilities.
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