Montreal

Quebec aims to crack down on wait times, free up hospital beds with $100M plan

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette says the money will go toward creating new spaces in long-term care homes, rehab facilities and mental health care centres.

Health minister says plan will invest in long-term care to free up hospital beds for short-term patients

With the injection of money, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette believes people will not have to turn to the hospital to get long-term care since they will have alternatives. (Radio-Canada)

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette announced on Wednesday that the province will be investing $100 million to free up hospital beds and cut down wait times.

According to Barrette, 10 to 15 per cent of hospital beds that are supposed to be used by short-term patients are occupied by people who do not need active care.

"Those patients need to be elsewhere, including getting care at home," said Barrette.

That's why the $100 million will be invested in services that allow people to get care outside of the hospital, he explained.

Barrette broke down the spending as follows:

  • $55 million to create 1,472 new spaces in homes for seniors that have lost autonomy.
  • $30.5 million to create 446 new spaces for people needing mental health care.
  • $14.5 million to create 207 spaces for people needing rehabilitation and convalescence.

"These are three kinds of activities that shouldn't be done at the hospital," said Barrette.

With the injection of money, Barrette believes people will not have to turn to the hospital to get long-term care since they will have alternatives. That should free up emergency rooms and beds, he said.

The plan is based on a pilot project run by the Lower St. Lawrence health agency. The project saw results, Barrette said.

In its case, the agency was able to reduce the amount of beds being used by patients who do not need active care to 1.9 per cent.

Money for the plan will come out of the province's surplus. In October, Finance Minister Carlos Leitao announced the government would be investing $300 million in health and social services for 2017-2018.

Since October, the province has also invested $65 million in long-term care homes, $20 million in cutting down wait times for surgeries and $21 million to cut down the wait time for diagnostic services.

That is all in addition to a $60 million investment in home health care announced this past summer.

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