Thursday , July 7 2022

The Manitoba Nurse Union urges a province to slow down changes such as OT increases in Grace


The Manitoba Nurse Union sounds the alarm over rising overtime rates at Grace Hospital, encouraging the WRHA to pump the brake for more changes in the spring.

Data obtained by the MNU through a FOI request to the WRHA shows an increase of 32 per cent in overtime hours between January and September 2017 and January to September 2018.

In 2017, nurses worked a total of 14,498 hours overtime, and in 2018, nurses worked 19,169 hours overtime. Numbers are only nine months of the two years, as the data for the remaining months of 2018 was not yet available.

"Stunning. We know there is an overtime … but this is even more overtime than I had anticipated, especially in the critical care areas," says the MNU president Darlene Jackson.

According to 2018 data, overtime rates are significantly higher in critical, emergency and medical care services or last year.

The data shows that nurses had worked 3,087 hours overtime in the critical care unit, from 1,743 hours last year, a 77 per cent increase.

In the emergency unit, nurses worked 4,705 hours overtime, from 3,556 hours in 2017, a 32 per cent increase.

In medicine, an overtime hours increased by 69 per cent, from 1,952 hours in 2017 to 3,296 in 2018.

"I think this is a direct result of step one. We started to see an increase in overtime and nurses began to report more issues with overtime and more issues with staffing in October. [2017]. Due to changes to the healthcare system, "said Jackson.

The Manitoba Nurse Union did not provide comparative overtime time data from 2016.

WRHA's chief nursing officer, Lori Lamont, when looking at data over time, reported overtime hours are not much different to the financial year for 2016, except for a swim in overtime hours in December 2017 and January 2018 due to the flu.

The WRHA provided numbers to the CBS that showed a general jump of 1,081 hours of overtime between 2016 and 2017 in general, based on comparing eleven months of available data.

Lamont said for the past two and a half years financial year, Grace spent around 2,000 hours an overtime per month, with some mice due to the flu season in 2017-18. He added that the health authority actively recruited vacant nursing posts and intends to complete them before Stage 2 starts in six months.

Lamont acknowledged that it was difficult for staff to work overtime.

"It's not a deliberately sustainable way to implement our system, so we're constantly looking at ways to ensure we're going to cover overtime drivers," he said.

Jackson said that nurses are working harder, with senior nurse-to-patient ratios, and also takes a toll on their health and happiness.

She encourages the health authority to stop plans for more change until an overtime becomes an exception, not the norm.

"This is very short and not sustainable," he said.

"You can not expect nurses to work this amount of overtime for a long stretch without having a plan in place. We need more baseline nurses, we need to be very careful with how many patients every nurse look after them and I believe that the government needs to look carefully at how fast step two will happen. We need to resolve this issue now before we move to step two where we have another problem full of our hands, "says Jackson.

Lamont said that Concordia & ERs still targeted to close in June, and Seven Oaks in September. The majority of patient traffic will go to HSC and St. Boniface added, not the Grace.

He added that there were six months to fill vacant nursing posts.

The Manitoba Nurse Union sounds the alarm over rising overtime rates at Grace Hospital, encouraging the WRHA to pump the brake for more changes in the spring. 1:38
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