For Immediate Release
St. John’s – The Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland & Labrador (RNU) says addressing health human resource challenges must be prioritized for successful transformation of the health care system through Health Accord NL.
“We cannot have a functioning health care system without a healthy workforce,” said Yvette Coffey, RNU President. “Even before COVID-19, registered nurses and nurse practitioners were under extreme stress due to excessive workloads and staffing shortages. More than half of our members report they’ve considered leaving the profession altogether in the last two years.”
RNU commends Health Accord NL for including specific calls to action regarding health workforce planning, and urgently calls on the provincial government to implement these measures to create safe working conditions, and address the recruitment and retention of RNs, NPs and other health care providers.
“We must take action now to improve the health of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” says Coffey. “Investing in the Health Accord NL recommendations will lead to better health outcomes in the long term. The cost of doing nothing will be far greater because health outcomes will not improve and our system will become even less sustainable.”
The union applauds the emphasis Health Accord NL places on social determinants of health, improving access to primary health care, child and elder health, as well as supporting health care providers to work to their full scope of practice. Adequate investment will be needed to support this work.
“Our members have long known the health care system is broken and needs to be fixed,” notes Coffey. “The guiding principles of the report are in line with our union’s advocacy work, however, uncertainties remain in relation to how the provincial government will implement Health Accord NL, as well as ongoing governance.”
RNU is urging the provincial government to do what’s right when it comes time to implement change. This includes investing in education, change management, continuous evaluation and adjustments based on the feedback of providers and communities as changes are implemented.
RNU participated in the development of Health Accord NL, advocating for improved quality of care for patients and ensuring RN and NP voices were heard. Coffey was a Task Force member. She championed the vital role of RNs and NPs in a reimagined health care system and strongly advocated for strengthening our public health care system. RNU facilitated several opportunities for member feedback, including town halls and focus groups. The Union will remain vigilant as Health Accord NL recommendations are implemented.
“Health Accord NL has set forth a plan to improve the social, economic and environmental conditions affecting our health and provide better, timelier access to health care. It is our hope Health Accord NL will lead to positive outcomes for not only patients, but the hardworking, dedicated professionals working throughout the system.”