A group of New Brunswick doctors is sounding the alarm about overcrowding in the province’s hospitals, saying the situation has evolved into a full-blown crisis.

Dr. Pam Mansfield says that’s the only wordto describe what’s happening at her hospital and others, especially given developments this past winter and spring.

“I don’t want to use the word crisis loosely,” she said.

Dr. Mansfield is one of five medical staff presidents within the Horizon Health Network who refer to the problem as “overcapacity gridlock” in an open letter they recently sent to government officials.

In the letter, they say emergency rooms are being filled with patients who’ve been admitted for days, and that rooms made to hold four patients are now holding five.

“Patients are put in the kitchenettes of the units,” Dr. Mansfield said.

The letter goes on to say: “Patients who are dying aren't given the dignity of a private room for them and their family because there are no rooms — a patient dying of cancer is separated by a thin curtain from someone receiving their chemotherapy for treatment of their cancer.”

The doctors are calling for an immediate policy change.

“We're tired of talking, we're tired of the high level meetings that keep going on,” Dr. Mansfield said.

Health Minister Victor Boudreau says the issue is not being ignored.

“Well, I received it less than a week ago so to expect an answer that quickly on such a detailed letter I think is maybe a little aggressive,” Boudreau said.

“Through the strategic program review, there’s an entire project, an entire initiative focusing on the whole continuum of care,” he said.

But that’s not the answer the doctors are interested in — they want action now.

“Not two years from now, not four years from now, not 10 years from now — we need to take action today,” Dr. Mansfield said.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore