Nurses Fear for Patient Safety in Brantford: Brant Community Healthcare System spinning facts to public on RN cuts

BRANTFORD, ON, June 15, 2012 /CNW/ - Registered nurses (RNs) working for Brant Community Healthcare System (BCHS) fear their employer is not telling the community the whole story as it cuts RN positions from units where seriously ill patients are cared for.

"Management is spinning the changes as positive for patient care, when nothing could be further from the truth," says Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "In reality, some of our most vulnerable patients are being deprived of vital RN care when they need their skills the most."

ONA has received layoff notices for a total of 18 full-time RN positions in the Medical-Surgical units and Complex Care Integrated Program. The RNs will be replaced by less expensive, unregulated workers, who simply do not have the education, skills and experience to recognize when patients are suffering complications that require immediate action.

ONA has been informed that BCHS is reducing the ranks of full-time RNs in the Complex Care Integrated Program from 12 to four, the Medical unit is cutting 13 full-time RNs down to nine and reducing 15 full-time RN positions in its Surgical unit down to nine.

"This is equal to taking more than 35,000 hours of RN care out of the hospital," says Haslam-Stroud, "and this will certainly increase risks to patients. Our members fully understand that hospitals are under enormous budget pressures, but cutting RNs is a false economy - research clearly demonstrates that when RN care is insufficient, patients are much more likely to have to be readmitted. Other studies have shown the clear link between a higher proportion of RN staffing and significantly lower rates of patient falls, shock, cardiac arrest, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and respiratory failure.

The 55-bed Complex Care Integrated Program consists of Palliative (end of life) care, Medical Complex care, which requires the close monitoring of patients, and Reactivation, where patients have suffered an acute unexpected or unexplained decompensation of their health status. Currently, four RNs cover those combined units per shift, but that will decrease to just one RN covering the entire program per shift - a drop of 75 per cent of RN nursing hours. Specifically, B7, the 36-bed Medical unit will go from five day and three night RNs to three day and two night RNs and B5, the 36-bed Surgical unit, will see the number of RNs decrease from five during the day and four at night to three and two respectively.

"All of these cuts will come at the expense of patient safety," Haslam-Stroud adds. "Spinning them as improvements is simply dishonest. BCHS justifiably boasts of the Brantford General site having the second lowest patient death rate of all Ontario hospitals, determined by the Canadian Institute for Health Information's 2010/2011 Hospital Standardized Mortality Ratio study. But the quality care provided by RNs is largely to thank for that, and I fear that status could now be in jeopardy."

Studies have repeatedly shown that patients have the best health outcomes when units are staffed appropriately with registered nurses. As the number of RNs declines, so too does the positive recovery of patients in the units.

ONA is urging the community of Brant to let their voices be heard and speak to their MPPs about these cuts, which will affect their quality health care, not just today but into the future.

ONA is the union representing 59,000 front-line RNs and allied health professionals and more than 13,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in Ontario communities, hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, industry and clinics.

SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information:

Ontario Nurses' Association

Ruth Featherstone   (416) 964-8833, ext. 2267 or
Ken Marciniec    (416) 964-8833, ext. 2306/cell (416) 803-6066 or

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Ontario Nurses' Association

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