Special to the Nor’wester
In protest to Central Health’s latest proposal to cut Registered Nurse (RN) positions in Central Newfoundland, the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union (NLNU) along with Registered Nurses and other supporters, staged a series of rallies to help get their concerns heard. Their message is simply “Registered Nurses are concerned about patient care”. By taking part in these protests, the NLNU and the RN’s hope to get as many people out as possible to help send a strong message to Central Health; that cuts to RN positions is a backwards step for patient care.
Both Baie Verte and Springdale are subject to staff cuts from their night shift. There was a rally held in both communities this past Tuesday with many RN’s and other supporters coming out to protest. Among the many protesters was Debbie Forward, President of the NLNU. Debbie spoke on behalf of the RN’s expressing the concerns with Central Health’s decision to make cuts to RN positions, particularly those cuts that are taking place in rural communities. They have serious concerns over the impact this will have on patient care, and have held several meetings with Central Health in the last several months to voice their concerns about the impact of having only one RN working the night shift.
This new plan put in place by Central Health will mean that Springdale and Baie Verte Health Centres will lose one Registered Nurse from their night shift which will leave just one RN on staff during the night to give care to both inpatients and emergency cases that may walk through the door at any time. This is the trend they are seeing said Debbie Forward. Most of the cuts to staff are from night staff and affecting centres in rural communities. These smaller centres do not have a Doctor on staff during the night shift leaving just one Registered Nurse to deal with inpatients and walk ins, regardless how dire the emergency. The NLNU is adamant that core staffing should be and needs to be a minimum of two.
The NLNU and its members have spoken very loudly and will continue to speak loudly to get their message across. They don’t believe that it is safe to have only one RN on staff during a night shift. The nurses are concerned with how they will split their time when emergencies arise. Debbie said, “Taking an RN out of the system on the night shift will not only have a negative affect on the RN but also on the level of care patients receive. Taking RN’s out of the system also takes knowledge and experience out of the system and communities will lose out on the level of patient care they receive.” The concerns of the NLNU and its members are justified given that research already shows that inadequate Registered Nurse staffing leads to poor patient outcomes, including increases in death rates.
The protesters rallying in Springdale and Baie Verte on Tuesday were handing out flyers to passers-by in an effort to gain support in joining the Registered Nurses as they call on Central Health to put patient care first. They strongly feel that removing RN’s will mean a reduction in the level of care provided in our community.