The Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski replied to the interpellation concerning the organisation and quality of the current emergency medical care service (No. 278), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Krista Aru, Andres Ammas, Monika Haukanõmm, Ain Lutsepp, Andres Herkel, Külliki Kübarsepp and Artur Talvik on 14 November 2016.
The interpellators stressed that the health care system must be patient-centered and meet the needs and expectations of the patient. They referred to the fact that the State Tasks Analysis ignores and does not evaluate the functioning emergency care system that may often be the only opportunity to stay alive for people in rural areas with dispersed and ageing population where the already implemented changes to the health care system have made any specialised medical care nearly unavailable to the people.
The interpellators wished to know if there were plans to make changes to the organisation of emergency care work.
Ossinovski said that there were no plans to significantly increase the number of ambulance crews in the coming years because the current number of ambulance crews is estimated to be optimal for ensuring the availability of emergency care service. “It is important to note here that always the closest ambulance crew is dispatched to respond to a call, regardless of the boundaries of the county or the service area of the particular ambulance,” the Minister said. He added that the National Health Plan had set a target related to the availability of emergency care that was based on world practice. The aim was to achieve that the average response time in the case of urgent calls would be below 21 minutes in rural areas and below 12 minutes in urban areas.
“After the reorganisations, as we know, the number of emergency care providers diminished from 24 to 11, which is what we call the emergency care reform. At the same time, we have also gradually increased the number of ambulance crews from 90 to today’s 102. Both changes have considerably improved the availability of emergency care both in urban and rural areas,” Ossinovski explained. He said that, for example in 2015, response times had been 14.4 minutes in rural areas and 7.6 minutes in urban areas, respectively.
“We have attained the same target level also in the average response times for non-urgent calls which is 14.1 minutes in rural areas and 8.5 minutes in urban areas, respectively.”
The Minister said that altogether 102 three-member ambulance crews operate throughout the country at present. Of them, physician teams together with resuscitation ambulance crews total 19, and the rest are nurse teams. “In assessing the work of ambulance, the proportion of successful resuscitations in all resuscitations is an important indicator,” Ossinovski said. He pointed out examples in the work analysis of the Health Board in 2015, according to which incidents involving resuscitation had accounted for 0.2 per cent of all ambulance visits, and 43 per cent of them had been successful. Ambulance nurse teams had been successful in resuscitation in 40 per cent of cases, physician teams in 47 per cent of cases, and resuscitation ambulance teams in 52 per cent of cases.
Ossinovski replied to four more interpellations. They were the interpellation concerning the unjustified requirements set for rural enterprises (No. 279), the interpellation concerning the postponement of treatment in connection with the lack of funds by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (No. 281), the interpellation concerning the prohibition of alcohol advertisements, and the excise duty rise (No. 284) and the interpellation concerning the legislative intent for Bills regulating gender reassignment (No. 288).
The sitting ended at 6.30 p.m.
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