Call volume, lack of provincial funding cited for rise in land ambulance cost
LONDON, Ont. -- There was another Code Zero in London Tuesday. That’s when all ambulances are tied up and none are able to respond to emergencies.
And it’s becoming all too common according to Middlesex County CAO Bill Rayburn.
“Typically what happens in those situations is the resources are utilized by call volume or off-load delays in the hospital and there are no more resources in the city to respond to calls.”
Call volumes for ambulances have been going through the roof this year, says Rayburn, particularly in the city.
He updated county council on the projected land ambulance budget increase for 2020, which is estimated at 15.8 per cent, but he qualified that by saying there’s no way of knowing the real increase due to a number of unknown variables like provincial funding.
This follows word from City of London staff last week that the city’s increase in land ambulance costs is expected to be north of 32 per cent in 2020 - a figure that had jaws dropping around the council horseshoe.
Rayburn says those costs are based on a long-standing agreement that takes a number of factors into consideration like provincial funding, weighted assessments and call volume ratios.
He says part of the disconnect is that city councillors see land ambulance as a budget request item, when in actuality it’s a cost over which there is little control.
City Councillor Josh Morgan, who serves as London’s budget chair, sat in on Tuesday’s county meeting.
He concedes there’s little room to manoeuver, but he’d like to work with the county to crunch numbers where possible.
“I certainly heard a couple things today that I think are great discussion points between city council and the county. The amount of money that they're spending on their off-load delays is a huge amount of money and that's something that we can probably work [on] together. We have to approach the province to try to bring that down.”