Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Nurses believe patient safety at risk due to short-staffing

RNs surveyed by union say they are stressed, worried

- ANDREA HILL UNFILLED VACANCIES ahill@postmedia.com Twitter.com/MsAndreaHi­ll

Almost 85 per cent of registered nurses who responded to a union survey earlier this year said they are aware of times patients have been put at risk because of short staffing.

More than 40 per cent of those nurses said they were aware of short-staffing putting patients at risk “frequently.”

Tracy Zambory, president of the Saskatchew­an Union of Nurses (SUN), said the results of the survey of 1,383 registered nurses are “very troubling.”

“We’re seeing things that we’ve never seen before because of how overburden­ed and over capacity and how we’re not keeping pace with what’s happening in the system,” she said.

“Our members are feeling stressed, they’re feeling burned out, they’re feeling extremely concerned for patient safety.”

Zambory said she fears the $5.6 billion earmarked for health in this spring’s budget — slightly below the $5.7 billion forecasted to be spent in the 2016-17 fiscal year — won’t solve the problems nurses in the province see with shortstaff­ing.

Almost half — 49 per cent — of surveyed nurses said there are vacancies in their workplaces that aren’t being filled.

“Are we going backwards, are we going to revisit the early 2000s when we were too short-staffed of registered nurses that the system was becoming crippled because there wasn’t enough people giving care?” Zambory asked.

The survey also asked nurses what they thought of the province’s move to a single provincial health authority.

More than a third — 34 per cent — reported having a negative perception of such a body.

The most common reason for that view was the concern that it would lead to reduced responsive­ness to the needs of different regions.

Zambory said SUN wants to be part of discussion­s about how the province will move toward a single health authority so nurses’ concerns are addressed.

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