TORONTO, Feb. 4, 2016 /CNW/ - Barely into 2016, registered nurse (RN) positions are being cut in increasing numbers as Ontario hospitals gut positions to balance budgets. Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, President of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) says that 2016 is turning into a "disaster" for patient care and it's now hitting Toronto hospitals.
"We saw 61 RN cuts at Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton on Monday, now the University Health Network's Toronto General and Toronto Western sites have cut 51 RN positions, Mount Sinai Hospital has cut 59 RNs and the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) has just announced RN cuts," she says.
"Enough is enough," said Haslam-Stroud. "Our patients simply can't tolerate any more cuts to the front-line registered nurses who provide bedside care for the unstable and unpredictable patients who rely on us. Hospitals are cutting RNs out of units where their care is vital, including neonatal intensive care units, ORs, cardiology, oncology units...I am particularly outraged that critical care areas, where patients require the advanced assessment and clinical skills of RNs, are gutting RNs and putting other health-care providers into areas where their licenses to practice are at risk when they are forced to care for unstable patients."
In the past four weeks alone, 406 RN positions have been cut from hospitals in the province. In 2015, 775 RNs were cut, equivalent to the loss of close to one million hours of front-line RN care for patients. Last fall, Runnymede Health Care in Toronto cut fully half of its RN staff, despite showing a budget surplus.
"Unless there is a public backlash now, RN cuts for 2016 will far outnumber last year's," said Haslam-Stroud. "It's painfully clear that our hospitals can no longer cope with frozen base hospital funding. Patient health outcomes are far more important than fiscal austerity, yet our policy-makers are choosing to risk patients' health for the bottom line. Unless people speak out against the cuts, they will continue and patients will pay the price. How much longer will we allow the government to sit silently by as our patients' health is being put at risk?"
The University Health Network, Mount Sinai Hospital and CAMH cuts follow RN cuts at Windsor Regional Hospital, Grand River Hospital, Northumberland Hills Hospital, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and Quinte Health Care.
ONA is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association
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