It’s a growing trend - more and more ambulances waiting to transfer patients into the emergency room.

“We’re very busy and the emergency department is very busy as well, and that’s a lost unit from the community that’s stuck in the emergency department,” says Middlesex-London EMS Chief Neal Roberts.

Roberts is sounding the alarm, saying numbers indicate that offload wait times for paramedics at emergency rooms is already rising steadily in 2019.

“We are seeing a bit of a trend that may be approaching worse than 2017, which was our worst year of recording so far to date.”

Roberts says the results are concerning when calculating the number of hours lost, “We are losing more than one 24 hour ambulance every day.”

Vice president of Emergency Services at London Health Sciences Centre, Julie Trpkovski, says emergency room backlogs are a problem across the board.

“From a system capacity perspective we are like all other hospitals. We are really struggling from a capacity perspective and we see more and more patients coming in to us.”

LHSC says staff have been working in partnership with EMS to try to improve offload times, but there is no quick fix.

“It’s a difficult system and we are really doing everything we can to serve our patients in a way we get them in quickly and assessed and sort out what is the need the patient has at the moment that we can address quickly,” Trpkovski says.

In the interim, Roberts says EMS is working with the province to expand community paramedicine along with several other changes that could ease the strain when it comes to offload times.

CTV News reached out to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term care on this issue and received an email statement from David Jensen in the ministry’s communications department:

“The government is modernizing emergency health services in Ontario by building a more integrated and efficient dispatch and communication service delivery system that will better meet the needs of Ontario’s communities.

“As part of these modernization efforts, the government is upgrading the technology used by ambulance communication centres, better connecting ambulance communication centres dispatchers and paramedics and ensuring patients are brought to and treated at the most appropriate health care facility, which could include mental health crisis centres.

“The government looks forward to productive discussions as it works with frontline paramedics and municipal partners to ensure Ontarians receive the emergency health services they expect and deserve.”