Saskatchewan Union of Nurses president Tracy Zambory worries job losses in the Saskatoon Health Region will affect patient safety.
“Our members are telling us if there is job loss in the system — and now we see that there is — that’s only going to cause more concern around the erosion of the safety and quality of patient care and the health and morale of registered nurses in the system,” she said.
Twelve registered nurses were among the 70 people whose jobs were cut by the Saskatoon Health Region on Thursday as part of a $34 million savings plan.
The health care system already has challenges with the appropriate registered nurse staffing, Zambory said, noting increasing patient volumes in Saskatoon are placing demands on the system, patients and care providers.
“When we see that and we hear about cuts to registered nurse positions, it causes us to think, are we making staffing decisions based on research and evidence and patient needs, or are we just looking at budget?”
The health region declined to provide a breakdown of all positions affected, or the amount the cuts are estimated to save. The cuts affect all unions as well as non-unionized staff.
The health region last year ran a $35 million deficit and faces another deficit of up to $30.8 million this year if it can’t reduce expenses, despite cost-cutting efforts overseen by CEO Dan Florizone and former interim CEO Andrew Will. Seventy per cent of its $1.2 billion budget is devoted to staffing.
Florizone told reporters the region has been able to reduce the number of potential job losses, as the $34 million plan is the equivalent of 260 positions.
Initiatives have included freezing external hires, vacancy management, providing incentives for early departure and eliminating and reducing third party grants. Forty managers applied for voluntary separation on Thursday, he said.
“Unfortunately, given the time frames and our obligations as stewards of public resources, the layoffs — 70 — were necessary and they were conducted today.”
Due diligence has been done to prevent “unintended consequences” to patient care, Florizone said.
“All of these are important positions, just like our third party grants. They’re all important. The question when you’re trying to figure out what your priorities ought to be is, you have to make some tough choices.”
Published: September 15, 2016
Source: Saskatoon Star Phoenix http://thestarphoenix.com/news/local-news/layoffs-annouced-at-saskatoon-health-region