EM­PLOY­EES DON’T LIKE LEAN: SURVEY

NDP makes in­for­ma­tion pub­lic

Regina Leader-Post - - Front Page - ASH­LEY MARTIN

Fewer than half of Saskatchewan health-care work­ers support Lean, a gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tive to re­duce waste in the health-care sec­tor.

That’s ac­cord­ing to a survey con­ducted in April by Aon Hewitt, made pub­lic Wed­nes­day through an NDP free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­quest.

“When over half of the re­spon­dents aren’t pleased with the changes that have oc­curred in their work area be­cause of Lean, that’s a strong sig­nal that we’re on the wrong di­rec­tion,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten.

The survey shows that 54 per cent of Saskatchewan health-care work­ers do not support “the con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment ef­forts (i.e. Lean),” though only 66 per cent of work­ers said they were aware of Lean ef­forts across the prov­ince.

The survey largely points to low em­ployee sat­is­fac­tion: Em­ploy­ees feel un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated and they say not enough is be­ing done to re­tain front-line work­ers.

Health Min­is­ter Dustin Dun­can said the sat­is­fac­tion level is about on par with a 2011 em­ployee survey (Lean was im­ple­mented in 2012), but agreed the num­bers are “a lit­tle bit dis­ap­point­ing.”

“We ob­vi­ously want to get to the root of why our sat­is­fac­tion num­bers for our own em­ploy­ees aren’t as high as they should be,” said Dun­can.

Tracy Zambory, pres­i­dent of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN), of­ten hears from frus­trated front-line work­ers.

Ear­lier this year, SUN polled 1,500 of its mem­bers about Lean and found sim­i­lar re­sults to this survey.

“Lean’s business ap­proach is bet­ter suited for the ad­min­is­tra­tive side of health care,” said Zambory. “It’s a re­ally poor fit for some­thing as com­pli­cated as pa­tient care.”

Dun­can said Lean’s goal is to em­power front-line work­ers. It may be hav­ing the op­po­site ef­fect: Zambory said nurses “feel like they can’t prac­tise up to their reg­u­la­tory stan­dards and that pa­tient safety is at risk.”

Just 29 per cent of work­ers and 36 per cent of doc­tors be­lieve “we are trans­form­ing the health-care sys­tem to sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove the qual­ity of (pa­tient) care in the prov­ince,” ac­cord­ing to the survey.

Zambory has heard of long-term care nurses be­ing timed on how quickly they could pass pa­tients’ med­i­ca­tion, which is a “huge pa­tient safety is­sue.”

There’s now a 30-minute time limit to trans­fer peo­ple into and out of a ward, added Zambory. If nurses ex­ceed the time limit as they’re do­ing “crit­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion with the pa­tient,” they must ex­plain why they couldn’t beat the clock.

Gor­don Camp­bell, pres­i­dent of the CUPE Health Care Coun­cil, which rep­re­sents most health-care em­ploy­ees save for RNs and doc­tors, had a sim­i­lar story.

“There are time con­straints, for in­stance, if I’m clean­ing a hos­pi­tal room,” said Camp­bell. “It may take me longer to clean that room than another one ... Dif­fer­ent units, dif­fer­ent con­di­tions re­quire more time and in some cases that’s not be­ing given.”

Only 26 per cent of survey re­spon­dents said they have suf­fi­cient “peo­ple re­sources avail­able to get our work done”; only 18 per cent agreed “se­nior lead­ers act on em­ployee feed­back.”

As in any work­place, Dun­can said, some dis­sat­is­fac­tion may hinge on the large amount of change in a short pe­riod of time.

Other health or­ga­ni­za­tions who have im­ple­mented Lean have said “the first two or three years are the most dif­fi­cult be­cause you are im­ple­ment­ing such large-scale trans­for­ma­tion,” said Dun­can.

“You just can’t en­gage 44,000 peo­ple in that all at once. It takes a lot of time.”

The gov­ern­ment en­tered a con­tract with John Black & As­so­ciates to im­ple­ment Lean across the Health Min­istry in Au­gust 2012. It re­newed the con­tract in Au­gust 2014.

Provin­cially, 9,469 health-care work­ers and 776 physi­cians re­sponded to the em­ployee en­gage­ment survey.

Cam Broten

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