Union Says Staffing Shortages Common for All Nurses

(Posted January 9, 2012

The President of the PEI Union of Public Sector Employees, Shelley Ward, says "with the many changes being made to the staffing of the front line workers in Health PEI, many have concerns about safety and the viability of care for the patients. Once again, comments made by the President of the Nurses Union need clarification. Mona O'Shea assumes that only RNs are being negatively affected by planning underway by Health PEI concerning the new model of care. However, it is important to remember that the livelihoods of both Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses are being affected by the major changes being made to front line nursing. The province is not just losing RN positions; they are also losing LPN positions during this transition as well."

President Ward says she understands that "the President of the Nurses Union has an obligation to represent her members, however, making comments which instill fear among the public, demean trained professionals, and create dissension among nurses is neither productive nor appropriate. To say that LPNs do not have the skills or knowledge to do the assessments required in long term care is simply not true. Many LPNs have acquired, or are in the process of acquiring, all the educational requirements and skills necessary for them to work professionally, competently and skillfully in long term care settings into the future."

President Ward explains that "what should be of concern for the public is the fact that all front line nurses - RNs, LPNs, and RCW/PCWs - are frequently working short-staffed. The amount of overtime generated in nursing is unacceptable. One has to wonder how many of our front line nursing team are actually working with the proper sleep and rest between shifts. Pam Trainor, Health PEI's chair of the collaborative care model committee, has noted that there could be an increase of health care staffing in the future, however, we see no evidence pointing toward this conclusion. It is true that the level of care given to the patient today has increased, but, there has been no further assistance provided to the front line to help with this change. The PEI UPSE has brought this to the attention of Health PEI many times, but still, three years later there is no change."