Code Census happens when the emergency department is so overcrowded it is deemed unsafe. Staff in other departments then have 30 minutes to prepare to accept more patients in order to free up beds in emergency.
Halifax (19 March 2018) — The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) has a responsibility to release Code Census data that highlights the crisis taking place at the Halifax Infirmary Emergency Department and that is putting patients and workers at risk, says Jason MacLean, President of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE).
Nova Scotia Health Authority won't release data
“Stephen McNeil keeps denying the crisis in health care, and the NSHA has information that shows just how bad things are but won’t release it,” says MacLean. “People have a right to know what’s happening in their EDs and as long as key data is withheld, McNeil is allowed to bury his head in the sand and deny what every nurse, health care worker and patient knows — there is a crisis in health care.”
NSGEU/NUPGE members have reported to the union that they can no longer call a Code Census. Code Census happens when the emergency department is so overcrowded it is deemed unsafe. Staff in other departments then have 30 minutes to prepare to accept more patients in order to free up beds in emergency.
Code Crisis, updated report on health care crisis
In 2016, there were 146 Code Census calls. In January 2017, there were 23 calls and 30 in total between February and March. The NSGEU/NUPGE can only confirm 2 Code Census calls between June and September 2017. The information can be found in Code Crisis, a new report released on March 15 by the NSGEU/NUPGE.
“NSGEU/NUPGE health care workers and nurses are telling us this is the worst crisis they’ve seen in over 20 years and now they are saying they are not allowed to call Code Census. The NSGEU/NUPGE is worried that this could be seen as an attempt to disguise the growing problems in emergency departments and shield McNeil from public accountability,” says MacLean.
McNeil needs to address crisis in Halifax Infirmary's Emergency Department
When the NSGEU/NUPGE requested data on how often the Halifax Infirmary Emergency Department reached the criteria that would previously have prompted a Code Census call, the NSHA did not respond with that specific information. The NSHA did share a lot of information during this collaboration and is working hard to address identified problems in health care. The NSHA did say that changes to the hospital's over capacity policy puts the emphasis on pulling patients out of the emergency to inpatient floors versus having patients pushed out of emergency.
“The problem is that the emergency department is routinely over capacity, and by refusing to release the data, it gives Stephen McNeil cover to ignore the crisis. I’m calling on McNeil to tell the NSHA to release the Code Census data and stop denying the crisis in health care — for a government who claims to be open and transparent, this should be an easy recommendation to action," says MacLean.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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