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N.L. nurses launch campaign called More Full-Time RNs Can Save A Lot

Exhaustion and mental fatigue are only two of the many problems being experienced by registered nurses in this province.
Exhaustion and mental fatigue are only two of the many problems being experienced by registered nurses in this province. - Submitted

Province needs more nurses, union says

The Registered Nurses Union (RNU) is concerned about statistics regarding the work being done by its members.

The more than 5,500 RNs working in the province are logging long hours and scads of overtime, and experiencing extremely long workdays.

The RNU, in an attempt to help gain dialogue with the government and achieve what it feels will be positive outcomes in health care, has started a campaign — More Full-Time RNs Can Save A Lot — designed to highlight the staffing practices being employed throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Inadequate RN staffing practices have become the norm in our province, and it’s having a negative impact on our members and the health care system overall,” RNU president Debbie Forward said Monday.

“If RNs were staffed properly, it would create safer and healthier work environments and improve patient outcomes, while saving on health care costs,” she added.

The RNU has significant research to support its claim that adding more RNs to the system is the right decision.

“The nursing research is telling us the outcomes in the health care system are not as positive as we would like them,” Forward said.

“We have started the conversation with government, the minister (John Haggie) … and presented the evidence of what our research is showing. We need improvements and that is the No. 1 priority for our members.”

Forward said documents show more than 240,000 hours of overtime logged by RNs in the past year included occasions where RNs worked anywhere from 16 to 24 hours consecutively.

To put the overtime in perspective, those hours equate to 123 full-time registered nurses for the province. In addition, 1,200 of those shifts logged as overtime were of greater than 16 hours in duration.

“That all takes its toll on nurses and the patients in their care,” she said.

Global evidence links lower RN staffing to unfavourable patient outcomes such as increased mortality, falls, infections and longer lengths of stay — all of which increase health care costs.

The RNU is looking to the provincial government to provide funding for safer RN staffing levels, and create a more efficient system. The two sides are in negotiations for a new contract.

“Core RN staffing hasn’t kept pace with our aging population and the high rates of disease in Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s time to re-evaluate staffing levels to ensure they meet patient demands,” Forward said.

Forward says the RNU has presented the evidence. She said there is not only one solution, but there is a solution, and she hopes both sides can find it.

For more on the campaign, go online to

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