ER wait times will improve, minister vows

Alberta Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky says wait times in hospital emergency rooms will be shortened.

Alberta Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky says wait times in hospital emergency rooms will improve.

Figures released Friday revealed lengthy waits at nine emergency rooms in Calgary and Edmonton during the week starting Oct. 31. Only two — the Stollery Children's Hospital and Alberta Children's Hospital — hit the province's interim target of admitting 45 per cent of patients within eight hours.

Zwozdesky acknowledged the figures are disappointing. However, he maintained the province's commitment to admitting 90 per cent of patients within eight hours by 2015, and said he is optimistic this will be achieved sooner.

"That's why I say it's a living, breathing document," he said. "There may need to be some revisions, but you have to start with your best information available to arrive at a set of targets, and that's what we're doing now."

While some hospitals came close to the targets, a few had more than 70 per cent of patients waiting longer than eight hours.

Zwozdesky said opening new beds, adding acute-care capacity and working more closely with ER doctors will help reduce wait times.