Prov­ince needs more nurses, union says

RNU launches cam­paign called More Full-time RNS Can Save A Lot

The Labradorian - - FRONT PAGE -

The Reg­is­tered Nurses Union (RNU) is con­cerned about statis­tics re­gard­ing the work be­ing done by its mem­bers.

The more than 5,500 RNS work­ing in the prov­ince are log­ging long hours and scads of over­time, and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ex­tremely long work­days.

The RNU, in an at­tempt to help gain di­a­logue with the gov­ern­ment and achieve what it feels will be pos­i­tive out­comes in health care, has started a cam­paign — More Full­time RNS Can Save A Lot — de­signed to high­light the staffing prac­tices be­ing em­ployed through­out New­found­land and Labrador.

“In­ad­e­quate RN staffing prac­tices have be­come the norm in our prov­ince, and it’s hav­ing a neg­a­tive im­pact on our mem­bers and the health­care sys­tem over­all,” RNU pres­i­dent Deb­bie For­ward said.

“If RNS were staffed prop­erly, it would cre­ate safer and health­ier work en­vi­ron­ments and im­prove pa­tient out­comes, while sav­ing on health-care costs,” she added.

The RNU has sig­nif­i­cant re­search to sup­port its claim that adding more RNS to the sys­tem is the right de­ci­sion.

“The nurs­ing re­search is telling us the out­comes in the health-care sys­tem are not as pos­i­tive as we would like them,” For­ward said.

“We have started the con­ver­sa­tion with gov­ern­ment, the min­is­ter (John Hag­gie) … and pre­sented the ev­i­dence of what our re­search is show­ing. We need im­prove­ments and that is the No. 1 pri­or­ity for our mem­bers.”

For­ward said doc­u­ments show more than 240,000 hours of over­time logged by RNS in the past year in­cluded oc­ca­sions where RNS worked any­where from 16 to 24 hours con­sec­u­tively.

To put the over­time in per­spec­tive, those hours equate to 123 full-time reg­is­tered nurses for the prov­ince. In ad­di­tion, 1,200 of those shifts logged as over­time were of greater than 16 hours in du­ra­tion.

“That all takes its toll on nurses and the pa­tients their care,” she said.

Global ev­i­dence links lower RN staffing to un­favourable pa­tient out­comes such as in­creased mor­tal­ity, falls, in­fec­tions and longer lengths of stay — all of which in­crease health care costs.

The RNU is look­ing to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to pro­vide fund­ing for safer RN staffing lev­els, and cre­ate a more ef­fi­cient sys­tem. The two sides are in ne­go­ti­a­tions for a new con­tract. in

“Core RN staffing hasn’t kept pace with our ag­ing pop­u­la­tion and the high rates of dis­ease in New­found­land and Labrador. It’s time to re-eval­u­ate staffing lev­els to en­sure they meet pa­tient de­mands,” For­ward said.

For­ward says the RNU has pre­sented the ev­i­dence. She said there is not only one so­lu­tion, but there is a so­lu­tion, and she hopes both sides can find it.

For more on the cam­paign, go on­line to www.rn­value.ca.

SUB­MIT­TED

Ex­haus­tion and men­tal fa­tigue are only two of the many prob­lems be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by reg­is­tered nurses in this prov­ince. The Reg­is­tered Nurses Union has launched a cam­paign called More Full-time RNS Can Save A Lot to out­line staffing is­sues in the health-care sys­tem.

FILE PHOTO

Deb­bie For­ward

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