April 18, 2016

RNU Reacts to Provincial Health Care Cuts

St. John’s, NL – The Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland & Labrador (RNU) is alarmed by the cuts to programs, services, and registered nurse positions within the four Regional Health Authorities announced earlier today.

“The reduction in health care expenditures highlighted today results in approximately 30 job cuts for registered nurses across the province,” said Debbie Forward, President of RNU. “Our first priority is our affected members as these job losses come as devastating news to them. We are focused on supporting these RNs during this difficult time.”

The Provincial Government’s Budget 2016 called for public service layoffs and directed the four Regional Health Authorities to reduce funding by an average of 1.7%. RNU will be contacting the Employers for more information on the numbers and rationales behind the health care cuts announced today.

“I have many questions,” said Forward. “What will be the impact of reduced OR hours in Western Health and the loss of dialysis services in Harbour Breton? We know demand is set to rise in long-term care, yet 40 beds will be closed at Masonic Park. The Premier listed better access to mental health care as a priority in his mandate letter to the Minister of Health, and yet we see psychiatric RN positions eliminated in the ER departments of both the Health Sciences Centre and Janeway. These are very concerning decisions that could impact health care delivery for very vulnerable populations.”

In addition to closed worksites and cut positions, other changes to health care delivery that impacts RNs and their patients include reduced service hours, program discontinuations, closed beds, service consolidations, and a plan to reduce overtime. Employers also plan not to fill a number of vacant RN positions.

“Research shows removing RN positions from the system actually contributes to high overtime rates,” said Forward. “I’m curious as to how Employers intend to reduce overtime with less RNs. Will they not replace staff, or have RNs working short? I am very concerned that a number of the changes employers put forward will reduce health care quality and end up costing the system more.”

“For certain, these cuts to health care will be felt by the patients,” said Forward. “This is just the first wave of cuts, and we anticipate a second wave in the fall that will be more aggressive. If government’s best idea is to simply remove RNs from the system or rely on inadequate staffing numbers to provide care, we’ll be sounding the alarm and standing up for the health care our province deserves.”

The Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland & Labrador represents more than 5,500 registered nurses working in acute care, long-term care, community, education and research.

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For more information please contact:
Kristian Styles
RNU Communications Specialist