Overworked nurses worried about their safety

Workers rally for safer and healthier working conditions

Overworked nurses worried about their safety

Hundreds of nurses in Newfoundland and Labrador are calling for better support from the provincial government, saying they have been overworked for the past year, and their safety is being put at risk.

Overtime has been mandated in hospitals and care centres as workers deal with emergency rooms that are overcapacity, 24-hour shifts and high rates of workplace injury and violence, reported CBC.

“The situation is critical for Newfoundland & Labrador’s RN’s and Nurse Practitioners. And that’s bad news for everyone,” Yvette Coffey, president of RNU.

In 2021 – 2022, registered nurses put in 400,000 hours of overtime, an increase of more than 100,000 from the previous year, according to Registered Nurses’ Union (RNU) NL. There are more than 600 vacant nursing positions in the province.

Read more: Switch BC aims to reduce violence against healthcare workers

“Our health care system is beyond broken, but it’s not beyond repair. The provincial government must act now to stabilize nursing and protect patient care before it’s too late. This means doing everything we can to retain registered nurses, create safer and healthier working conditions, improve access to leave and recruit registered nurses into full time jobs.”

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of healthcare workers experienced physical violence, according to a previous report from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). 53 per cent reported an increase in violence targeting them or a co-worker during the COVID-19 pandemic, based on the union's survey of 2,300 front-line registered practical nurses, personal support workers, porters, cleaners and other front-line hospital staff, conducted in May.

Research released last week revealed 40 percent of RN’s plan to leave the health care system if working conditions don’t improve. And 75 per cent of nurses are considering leaving their current position within the next 12 months, found consultancy Blu Ivy Group in its survey of 359 health care workers conducted Sept. 26 to Oct. 5, 2022.

Read more: Hospital staff subjected to increasing violence: Report

“The situation is critical for Newfoundland & Labrador’s RN’s and Nurse Practitioners. And that’s bad news for everyone,” Coffey said.

“Hospitals across the province continue to be over capacity – the public is being told not to visit emergency rooms unless they’re seriously ill. Long term care beds are sitting empty because there are no staff. Patients are going without critical care in our community, and the backlog of surgeries and procedures continues to build.”