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Saskatchewan STARS ambulance needs more oversight: provincial audit

Saskatchewan STARS ambulance needs more oversight: provincial audit
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Saskatchewan ’s provincial auditor says the STARS helicopter ambulance system needs more oversight.

The 2019 Report states that the Ministry of Health “needs to receive regular reporting on quality and timeliness of patient medical care” during transport. It also said the ministry needs regular reporting on STARS staff qualifications and helicopter maintenance.

As well, the audit said the ministry “needs to obtain sufficient information on the number and reasons for when requests to use STARS are cancelled, or STARS does not fly” but did say that the criteria determining when STARS should be used is sufficient.

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The report went on to say that helicopter bases are strategically located—providing coverage from La Ronge in the north of the province to Estevan in the south—but there is no formalized criteria used to support decisions about where new landing zones should be placed.

The ministry pays a flat annual contract rate of $10.5 million for helicopter services. STARS costs almost $15,000 on average per call while a ground ambulance costs slightly more than $850 per call.

Nearly 700 patients are transported by STARS a year, 30-40 per cent of which are calls to accident scenes. The remainder are transfers between health care facilities.
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