I listened with great interest to today’s interview with Mary Jane Hampton on CBC’s Information Morning. While I agree with some of the points this health care consultant makes, I must take exception with her fundamental argument that RNs have “priced themselves out” of the role of providing hands-on care to patients.
The NSGEU currently represents more than 2,600 Registered Nurses (RNs) and 500 Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), both of whom play invaluable roles within our healthcare system. They are on the same team, with the same goal: delivering the best possible patient care. We are currently at the bargaining table representing our RNs, which means our focus is on addressing their key concerns. In this case, those concerns are scheduling and patient safety.
Our RNs have told us time and time again that they are dangerously understaffed – and even Ms. Hampton seems to agree with this point.
We agree wholeheartedly that finding the right complement of staffing – RNs and LPNs – within each area of the acute care system is critical. But we need action now, and mandated nurse-to-patient ratios for our RNs are an excellent starting point.
Research clearly shows that mandated nurse-to-patient ratios lead to safer patient care, better patient outcomes and improved work lives for our nurses. This means a significant decrease in overtime, from fewer nurses leaving the province or even the profession. Our more experienced nurses who are ready to retire are more likely to stay on in a full-time capacity to mentor new nurses, and new nurses are more likely to want to stay in Nova Scotia.
Ms. Hampton seems to imply that we cannot afford more RNs. I would argue that, with an aging population and already-strained healthcare system, we cannot afford to ignore this problem any longer, or waste more time hiring consultants to study the problem.
The research is already out there: nurse-to-patient ratios work.
Let’s start there.
Proudly representing nurses,