Registered Nurses Fear Patient Safety Will Suffer

    EDMONTON, Aug. 28 /CNW/ - The College and Association of Registered
Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) is seriously concerned that further cuts to the
registered nurse workforce will put patient safety and quality of care at
risk. Earlier this week, Alberta Health Services announced plans to cut staff
by enticing nurses and other professionals into early retirement in order to
address the health system's budget deficit.
    "CARNA is dismayed that Alberta Health Services is encouraging
experienced registered nurses to consider early retirement because the care
provided by registered nurses is essential for ensuring patient safety and
quality of care," says Mary-Anne Robinson, CARNA executive director. "Nearly
6,600 of Alberta's registered nurses are over the age of 56 and eligible to
retire. When you consider that there are only about 8,500 nurses in all of
Edmonton, you can imagine the impact if all the nurses over the age of 56
retired at once. We should be urging experienced nurses to stay, not ushering
them out the door."
    According to Robinson, research shows that the care provided by
registered nurses can prevent mistakes from happening in hospitals, including
preventing deaths, and reduces the number of times people have to be
readmitted to the hospital. Experienced nurses also provide care for the very
sick people who are admitted to hospitals and act as a resource for less
experienced nurses. Along with encouraging early retirement, Alberta Health
Services CEO Dr. Stephen Duckett announced a plan to reduce overall costs by
three per cent throughout the system, including in long-term care facilities.
    "CARNA is puzzled by the contradictions in the approach being taken by
Alberta Health Services," says Robinson. "On one hand, Dr. Duckett is planning
to shift health care out of hospitals and into communities. On the other hand,
he is encouraging registered nurses to leave the health system when registered
nurses are the professionals with the knowledge base required to coordinate
community care and services and provide care for the sickest individuals in
their homes. There have to be enough registered nurses to provide the care,
regardless of where that care occurs."
    According to Robinson, many registered nurses are telling CARNA that they
are demoralized from consistently working on understaffed units, being
required to work extra shifts and unpaid overtime on a regular basis and the
loss of experienced nurse managers and other nursing practice supports.

    CARNA is the professional and regulatory body for Alberta's more than
32,000 RNs, including nurses in direct care, education, research and
administration. Its mandate is to protect the public by ensuring that
Albertans receive effective, safe and ethical care by registered nurses.

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview contact: Margaret
Ward-Jack, T: (780) 453-0515, C: (780) 932-1376, F: (780) 452-3276,

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College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta

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