Shortages of health professionals hurting patient care and those who deliver it: HSABC

"The same survey showed that 62 per cent of members work up to 4 hours of unpaid overtime in a week, and 76 per cent of members are concerned that workload is negatively impacting patients." — Val Avery, HSABC President

Vancouver (23 Nov. 2016) — The Health Sciences Association of B.C. (HSABC/NUPGE) is taking action by raising public awareness of how shortages create longer wait times. At the same time, the union is mobilizing members to provide key information on where and how the resulting workload issues are happening.

HSABC/NUPGE's campaign shows wait times, understaffing a growing problem

This fall, HSABC/NUPGE rolled out a new ad using powerful imagery to show the public how ongoing shortages of health science professionals leave patients waiting longer for care. To date, the ad has been seen nearly 2.5 million times through targeted Facebook and YouTube advertising.

The ad's release was timely, coming out just as Island Health Authority revealed in September there were 18,000 British Columbians waiting for ultrasound tests on Vancouver Island alone. Val Avery, President of HSABC/NUPGE, who spoke to reporters about the issue, explained that shortages affected many professions, not just ultrasonographers. Avery reminded the provincial government that if they want to reduce wait times for patients, as promised, they need to hire, train, and retain more health science professionals.

"That means increasing training spaces, but it also means tackling the reason why it's hard to retain the ones who are already trained – the private sector and other provinces pay more, sometimes much more," Avery said. "Until wages are increased to be competitive, we will keep losing trained staff, wait lists will get longer, costs will go up and patients will suffer."

Meanwhile, professionals working in health sciences and community social services find themselves dealing with workload that is approaching the breaking point.

HSABC/NUPGE now asking members to record workload concerns with on-line survey

A series of member surveys conducted over the last few months reveal the extent of the problem. In one of these surveys, 92 per cent of members said they miss or cut breaks short because of workload – and 46 per cent said "frequently." The same survey showed that 62 per cent of members work up to 4 hours of unpaid overtime in a week, and 76 per cent of members are concerned that workload is negatively impacting patients.

HSABC/NUPGE is now asking members to document their workload concerns. This will provide important information about the impact of the problem across different professions, worksites and regions, and will provide HSABC/NUPGE with data needed to pressure the provincial government and health authorities into taking the matter seriously.

An initial workload survey has been provided to members during site visits by HSABC staff and member organizers, but an online version is now being rolled out to all members. Members are urged to participate by following the initial survey and, if asked, the longer questionnaire. 

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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