Under-staffing a serious concern for front-line healthcare workers

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Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan survey raises concerns over staffing levels

Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan survey raises concerns over staffing levels

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A recent survey of the specialized health care professionals represented by the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan shows that 60.4 per cent believe their profession is under-staffed in their health care workplace, Health Sciences President Karen Wasylenko said.

“In fact, the 2013 Health Sciences Membership Survey found that 40.7 per cent of the specialized health care professionals, who said their profession was under-staffed in their workplace, also said three or more full-time positions would have to be added, for them to 'provide an appropriate level of service to the public'. No wonder we have seen so many problems with a variety of health care services in recent months,” Wasylenko said.

“Saskatchewan health regions are now admitting that many of these professional vacancies are the direct result of decisions they have taken to cut health care budgets on the backs of patients and their families. Recently, the largest health care region (Saskatoon Health Region) presented a list of specialized health care positions they are planning to “not fill for a period” (deliberately left vacant to save money) or that they plan to “not fill at all” (the position will be eliminated). Some twenty three positions were in these two categories; everything from mental health therapists, to physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and hospital pharmacists,” Wasylenko noted.

“The chronic under-staffing of specialized health care professionals is the root cause of the crises we have seen in recent weeks in hospital emergency rooms, public wards and long-term care homes. Under-staffing has meant growing waiting lists for many health care services, and unsafe access for others. These survey results show just how strongly our professional members feel about the state of the problem,” Wasylenko said.

“For too long, health regions have tried to claim that these positions are too hard to recruit. Now they are admitting that this kind of “vacancy management” is a deliberate strategy to save money, regardless of the impact on patients and their families. Health region managers need to be held publicly accountable for their disastrous decisions,” Wasylenko concluded.

The 2013 Health Sciences Membership Survey was completed online by 732 health care professionals from Sept. 9 to 20. Health Sciences members include: Emergency care workers like Paramedics; Acute care workers like Hospital Pharmacists, Perfusionists, and Respiratory Therapists; Rehab professionals like Physical Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists; and Community- based professionals like Public Health Inspectors and Social Workers.

Organizations: Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Saskatoon

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