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May 17, 2017

National expert of safe RN staffing speaks to MHAs

Safe Staffing

The Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland and Labrador (RNU) hosted a breakfast Tuesday for 15 MHAs and others to hear from from Mike Villeneuve, a nurse leader known nationally for his work in health system policy and the future of nursing.

Mike Villeneuve, a nurse leader known across Canada for his work n health system policy and the future of nursing, spoke in St. John’s Tuesday. He is shown with Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland and Labrador president Debbie Forward.
©Submitted photo

 “Today, we presented extensive research on the impact of RN staffing,” said RNU president Debbie Forward said in a news release.

“The research is clear. RNs have the in-depth knowledge, skills and judgment that make them a vital profession in our health care system. When there are safe RN staffing levels and healthy work environments, patient outcomes improve and the cost to deliver health care decreases. It’s in everyone’s best interest that RN staffing practices are improved.”

MHAs were presented with research suggesting safe staffing practices lead to more positive health outcomes for patients and a more fiscally responsible health care system.

For every surgical patient added to the average RN workload, the risk of patient complications and death increases by seven per cent, the union says.

“RN safe staffing is a national issue. I have presented across the country to various provincial organizations on how to better utilize this incredible health resource: the RN,” Villeneuve said in the release. “Newfoundland and Labrador has an aging population and high rates of chronic disease, which continues to put higher demands on the heath care system. There needs to be better staffing practices put in place, to ensure better health outcomes for patients at a lower cost to the people of the province.”

In 2014-15, the province spent $48 million in overtime and sick leave for RNs Forward said.

“Clearly, we are not staffing our facilities adequately,” she said.

“We need to be more efficient and less wasteful. If we have the right number of RNs to provide care in the first place, we would reduce this spending, while also creating safer patient care.”

As a first step, the RNU is calling for government to complete a core staffing review, which would examine the number and types of health care providers currently working in the system. The last review was done in the late 1990s.