Composition of Ontario task force reviewing hospital violence against nurses is skewed and unrepresentative

OTTAWA, Aug. 13, 2015 /CNW/ - A task force to review violence against nurses in hospital settings has tripped at the starting gate, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE (OCHU) said today. "Registered Practical Nurses, who make up a large and growing part of the nursing team are not represented on this provincial task force, although they are assaulted by patients every day of the week. The task force is, however, loaded with employer and government representatives," said Michael Hurley, president of OCHU.

Registered Practical Nurses complete a 2-year college program and are licensed by the College of Nurses of Ontario to provide comprehensive nursing care. RPNs are employed at hospitals across Ontario and their numbers are growing rapidly. CUPE represents 9,000 hospital RPNs and estimates are that approximately 15,000 work in the Ontario hospital system.

"12 of the 17 task force members are direct or indirect employees of the government of Ontario. Only 2 represent workers. If the issue being examined were violence against deputy ministers, this task force would be an excellent focus group. But given that the mandate of the Task Force is violence against nurses, the composition is woefully inadequate and imbalanced, " Hurley said.

" Nurses daily experience at work in the hospital setting is fraught with violence, whether in the emergency department at a major hospital where a shooting takes place; in a psychiatric unit where a staff member is beaten unconscious with a metal bar or in alternate level of care units where nurses are regularly physically assaulted. The failure to include nurses representatively on this task force completely undermines its credibility. We suggest that the government take a second look at this," said Helen Fetterly, Secretary-Treasurer of OCHU and an RPN.

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions is conducting focus groups of hospital staff to discuss violence in the workplace in the lead up to a provincial conference on violence in June 2016.

SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)

For further information: Helen Fetterly, Secretary-Treasurer, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions: 613-551-0688; Michael Hurley, president, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions: 819-456-2159


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