[Leader Post] Twenty staff on the adult mental health unit at Regina General Hospital — including seven registered psychiatric nurses — will be receiving layoff notices.
The layoffs are a result of an audit done to align staffing with the needs of the unit, said Keith Dewar, CEO of the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region.
To more effectively use resources, staff will work eight-hour shifts instead of 12-hour shifts.
“Our expectation will be that will lead to a decrease in overtime as we work our way through the staffing process,” Dewar said.
The layoffs won’t impact patient care, he said.
“We’re comfortable and confident that this is a more efficient, effective staffing model, but in the end, it allows us to provide the same service as we did before,” Dewar said.
He noted that scheduling changes done in homecare resulted in more work being done with fewer people.
There are currently 98.84 full-time equivalent positions on the unit, which is approximately 197 people, including full-time, part-time and casual, in a variety of positions.
Citing the need to protect employees’ privacy, he would not disclose what category of jobs would be lost.
However, according to information released by the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN), four registered nurses, seven registered psychiatric nurses, three licensed practical nurses and six special care aides will be receiving layoff notices.
SUN president Tracy Zambory is concerned that 11 of its members — the majority of them registered psychiatric nurses — are being given layoff notices.
“These patients are acutely mentally ill with very complex needs, so they require the specialized nursing that our members have given them,” Zambory said. “The other thing that is very troubling to us is that this particular unit already has some of the highest overtime rates in the region.”
As a result of the strain on the mental health unit, patients will be showing up in other departments — such as emergency rooms, she said.
“There’s going to be costs to the system at that end, so it seems like there’s all of this short-term budget-driven solution happening and we really need to be looking at long-term, evidence-based solutions,” Zambory said.
In the past, Dewar said the region has used attrition to reduce staffing.
However in this instance, attrition would take too long for employees to find jobs within the organization. Therefore, the region decided to use the layoff language in the collective agreements to help staff move to other positions, he said.
“This is not a bottom-line exercise because we still hope that these individuals will find their way through the collective agreement language to find other employment within the organization,” he said.
NDP Health Critic Danielle Chartier said the layoffs on the inpatient mental health unit will have a huge impact on frontline services.
“Anybody who has tried to seek mental health and addictions services know that there’s already a strain in the system,” she said. “It’s hard to get services in a timely fashion, and this is going to make it even more difficult.”
Published: September 28, 2016