Registered Nurses Respond to Alberta Health Services Budget

    EDMONTON, June 30 /CNW/ - The Alberta Health Services budget announced
today has serious implications for the care Albertans will be able to receive
from their health care system, according to the College and Association of
Registered Nurses of Alberta.
    "Alberta Health Services has said they don't intend to impact direct
front-line care but that is already happening," says CARNA president Margaret
Hadley. "As long as you are not filling front-line positions, direct patient
care will certainly be affected."
    In March 2009, there was a shortage of 1,483 nurses. Alberta Health and
Wellness continues to project a shortage of 6,000 nurses by 2016. Eighteen per
cent of the current registered nurse workforce is age 56 or older and eligible
to retire while, at the same time, an aging population is going to require
more health services. In the past three months, vacant registered nurse (RN)
positions have not been filled, registered nurse positions have been replaced
by positions for less-qualified workers and nearly two-thirds of this year's
Alberta nursing graduates cannot find jobs within Alberta Health Services.
This is going to create longer waits in emergency rooms, more elective surgery
cancellations, and more hospital beds which cannot be used because of nursing
staff shortages.
    "We know that our province's registered nurses are being actively
recruited by other provinces and U.S. employers," says Hadley. "The registered
nurses who leave the province now, particularly the new graduates and nurses
in early stages of their careers, are unlikely to return in the future when
the current short-term economic crisis eases. This short-term thinking doesn't
make sense given the evidence showing that the care provided by registered
nurses actually saves costs in the long run by shorter lengths of stay in
hospitals, lower readmission rates and reduced rates of infection."

    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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