For immediate Release:

Monday, September 24, 2012

NAPE Concerned with Impact of Cutbacks on Province’s Healthcare System

ST. JOHN’S, NL – NAPE President Carol Furlong is raising concerns with the negative impact that cuts and other cost saving measures are having on the province’s healthcare system, particularly with regards to patient care and staff workloads.

“Our members across the province are saying that cost saving measures implemented by the various healthcare authorities is leading to reduced patient care, staffing shortages, reduced hours of work in some important fields, fewer opportunities for professional development, and increased stress and strain on our province’s healthcare workers,” said Furlong. “Our hospitals, clinics and long term care facilities should not be run like factories. We are talking about our healthcare system – a system that must focus on the patients and ensure that the people of this province have the level of care that they expect and deserve.”

In recent months, the real impact of cutbacks on our province’s healthcare system has become painfully apparent.

Failure to replace staff on leave, increased responsibilities, and reduced hours of work is leading to excessive workloads. As a result, staff-on-duty are left to prioritize patient care which means that the needs of all patients cannot be adequately addressed. This issue is exacerbated by recruitment and retention issues in some classifications in the healthcare system. For example, trades workers are leaving their positions in pursuit of more lucrative work in the private sector. Additionally, as some workers retire, their positions are either not being refilled or being posted as temporary, rather than permanent, positions which is making it difficult to recruit the people with the necessary skill set required.

Cuts have also resulted in decreased opportunities for healthcare workers to pursue professional development. In the past, the health authorities would provide funding to help some healthcare workers attend conferences and professional development opportunities in their respective fields. In recent weeks, however, the funding that would normally be available has been deemed “discretionary spending” and cut as a result. Professional development is crucial to ensure that healthcare workers are up to date on the best practices and technological advancements in their respective fields.

“We fully expect that the negative impact on our healthcare system will only worsen in the foreseeable future if the current trend of cutbacks is not stopped,” continued Furlong. “The Minister of Health as well as management at the health authorities must listen to our province’s health care workers when they raise concerns about their workloads, working conditions, stress and patient care – not ignore them.”

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