TORONTO, Oct. 10, 2013 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) is calling for an immediate moratorium on registered nursing cuts in the province.
A new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) showing that Ontario has the second-lowest ratio of registered nurses to population in the country tells an alarming story for patient care.
The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), the union representing 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates, has been calling for an increase in the number of registered nurses in the province for more than a decade. Yet between January 2013 and September 2013 alone, more than 1,100 front-line registered nursing positions have been cut across Ontario. ONA has also been warning that low RN staffing levels in Ontario continue to put patient care at risk.
"The science is clear," notes ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "As the number of registered nurses declines, so does the quality of care. Studies have repeatedly shown that for every patient added to an average RN's workload, patient risk of morbidity (complications) and mortality (death) rises by seven per cent. Our patients deserve better than this."
The ongoing quest to balance budgets has resulted in Ontario being kept far behind the rest of the country in terms of RNs per population.
ONA long ago negotiated a process for RNs to follow should they believe that patient care - or their nursing licence - could be at risk because of inadequate or inappropriate nurse staffing. The option to call in an Independent Assessment Committee has been rarely used until recently, but has become increasingly common as employers cut RN positions or fill them with lower-skilled, lower-paid workers in an effort to save money - proof of the watering down of quality patient care in Ontario.
Current levels of health care funding continue to adversely impact Ontarians. "Keeping RN levels this low simply puts our patients at risk, costs the system more and is a false economy," says Haslam-Stroud. "RN care reduces the rates of death and disease in patients, saving the system money in the long run by preventing complications and the need for more expensive treatment. The provincial government clearly must commit to not only stopping RN cuts, but to increasing the number of RNs working in Ontario to ensure the quality care patients expect and deserve," she says.
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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