Health P.E.I.’s decision to cut five nursing positions at two of its facilities that deal with mental health and addictions has the P.E.I. Nurses’ Union wondering how it will impact the quality of care for patients.
Mona O’Shea, the union’s president, said the nurses heard that Health P.E.I. planned to cut five registered nurse positions at the Prince County Hospital mental health unit and the inpatient unit at the Provincial Addictions Facility in Mount Herbert.
“The staff are just feeling quite overwhelmed at the workload as it currently is and then to end up losing positions they’re just wondering how they’re going to be able to provide the quality of care that they’re used to doing,” she said.
There are 10 nurses working at the Mount Herbert facility and 12 at the Prince County Hospital mental health unit.
O’Shea said how much of an impact the changes have will depend on what the requirements will be for the nurses to supervise allied health professionals.
“The time that it’s going to take to do that versus being able to give hands-on care to patients,” she said.
The changes will take place in March and April.
Although the number of nurses is being reduced, Health P.E.I. is increasing the total number of health-care workers at the facilities by adding 5.7 licensed practical nurse positions and 7.5 resident care and patient care workers.
It works out to a total increase of 1.2 full-time equivalent positions.
Health P.E.I. spokesman Rick Adams said a lot of time was put into the decision to reduce the number of nurses as part of an ongoing review of the province’s model of care.
“The planning has really emanated from right on these patient care units,” he said.
James Aylward, Opposition health critic “The Ghiz government’s claim that mental health and addictions is a priority obviously a complete farce,”
Adams said Health P.E.I. is trying to ensure health-care staff are working to their full scope of practice.
He also said Health P.E.I. wouldn’t be making the changes if it thought the quality of care would suffer.
“We believe this new staffing complement will best meet the needs of our patients and do so in the most effective and efficient manner,” he said.
Adams said changes to Hillsborough Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s psychiatric unit are in the planning phases.
James Aylward, Opposition health critic, is appalled that Health Minister Doug Currie is cutting registered nursing positions.
“The Ghiz government’s claim that mental health and addictions is a priority obviously a complete farce,” said Aylward. “If they were truly committed to battling this epidemic, the health minister wouldn’t be cutting some of the most experienced and well-trained front line positions.”
NDP Leader Mike Redmond says the cuts to the registered nursing positions puts event more Islanders at risk of suicide.
“I was shocked to hear about the cuts to RN positions at the inpatient mental health unit at the Prince County Hospital in Summerside and at the Mount Herbert addictions facility,” said Redmond.
“We now have an Island wide crisis in terms of inadequate services for addictions and mental health problems. Meanwhile, the registered nurses who are being cut have the knowledge and education and critical thinking to do the assessment and care of our most acute mentally ill and addiction clients.”