Ontario Nurses Say Health Care Changes Must Benefit Patients

TORONTO, Feb. 15, 2012 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) will meet with government to discuss any recommendations contained in the just-released Drummond Report that will impact on health outcomes for patients and the working conditions for RNs.

In its first analysis of the report, ONA found some recommendations to be supportive of - such as fully uploading public health to the provincial level, improving coordination across the health care system, training more nurses and developing a health human resource strategy - and some objectionable recommendations.

ONA objects in particular to recommendations that suggest that private health care operators should provide out-of-hospital services.

"Taxpayer dollars must be retained for front-line care, not for profit for corporations," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN.

In addition, ONA has some major concerns about labour relations recommendations that infer that the arbitration system is not objective, and that erode nurses' rights to respectful and fair workplace practices and career opportunities when reorganizing occurs in health care facilities.

"Nurses are on the front lines and see opportunities for cost savings and improvements to quality patient care, yet their expertise was not sought by Mr. Drummond," notes ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "As advocates for their patients, quality patient care remains top of mind and cuts that simply remove care in the name of 'efficiency' will not be acceptable.

"Registered nurses in Ontario support transformation that leads to better quality care," she says. "We believe that this province needs to reverse tax cuts for corporations that in part have caused a structural deficit."

Registered nurses work in hospitals, long-term care, home care, public health, the community and clinics, and just his week they have seen another 60 RN positions cut at The Scarborough Hospital - repeating the disastrous cuts of more than 100 RNs from Toronto East General Hospital. The evidence is clear: fewer RNs mean increased patient deaths and complication rates.

If patients are moved out of hospital and into the community, government must build more capacity into home care, community services and long-term care before this occurs. Failure to build capacity will leave more patients on waiting lists in a province that already has tens of thousands without the care they need.

"Our nurses have more than done their part to help eliminate the deficit," says Haslam-Stroud. "The majority are under a two-year wage freeze, they've worked thousands of hours of overtime to ensure patients have the care they need as nursing cuts were made to balance hospital budgets. They represent the kind of public-sector workers who contribute greatly to the health and well-being of Ontarians, even as a carefully orchestrated PR campaign unfolded to paint public-sector workers as the cause of the deficit.

"As patient advocates, RNs will be leading the way in ensuring that changes will be beneficial to patient care. The province simply can't afford to give corporations more tax cuts while cutting the heart out of health care."

ONA is the union representing 58,000 front-line RNs and allied health professionals and more than 13,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, industry and clinics.

SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information:

Ontario Nurses' Association

Sheree Bond    (416) 964-1979, ext. 2430; cell (416) 986-8240; shereeb@ona.org

Melanie Levenson   (416) 964-1979, ext. 2267; melaniel@ona.org

Visit us at: www.ona.orgwww.Facebook.com/OntarioNurseswww.Twitter.com/OntarioNurses


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