"The results of this survey clearly show that nurses are struggling to provide safe patient care, given the consistent staffing shortages they are facing on the frontlines." — Jason MacLean, NSGEU President
Halifax (04 April 2019) — Earlier this month, the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) issued an employee work-life balance survey, only to pull it offline shortly after it was sent to employees. In response to this, and as a result of the troubling reports we have been hearing from our frontline nursing members, the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees' Union (NSGEU/NUPGE) launched its own member survey.
NSGEU/NUPGE survey from nurses shows alarming results
The survey was sent to all nurses, who are members of NSGEU/NUPGE (3,147 members), and the union received 1,009 responses in return (32 per cent response rate). Members were given more than 10 days to complete the survey. The results were extremely alarming.
- 93% of nurses surveyed say they believe patients are being put at risk due to working short.
- 69% of respondents say, in the past 6 months, they have witnessed or been involved in a "near miss" or adverse event at work.
- 92% say in the past 5 years, their workload has increased
- 80% say their employer's decision to change the way they interpret overtime language in their collective agreement has actually increased their workload further.
- 85% of respondents say their unit works short at least once per week.
- 77% say their employer's decision to change the way they interpret overtime language in their collective agreement has actually increased the amount of time their unit has worked short.
- Only 12% of respondents say they feel safe at work.
- 84% of respondents say they have experienced physical or verbal threats or acts of abuse/violence by patients/residents/family members while at work over the past 5 years.
- 35% have sustained injuries at work over that same period of time
Issues facing nurses range from physical attacks to insufficient time to provide care
The survey comments outlined a number of very disturbing reports, including, but not limited to
- nurses being bitten, kicked and hit by patients and patients' family members
- an increase in the number of patient falls, due to nursing staff being unavailable to provide one-on-one care and management's refusal to call in patient attendants
- increased number of bedsores, as nurses do not have time to provide full personal care or post-operative baths, or to turn patients as frequently as they should
- missed or late medications and medication errors, as well as missed orders and bloodwork
- inability to properly manage patients' pain and nausea due to time constraints
- patients being placed in TV rooms and communal family waiting areas.
"The results of this survey clearly show that nurses are struggling to provide safe patient care, given the consistent staffing shortages they are facing on the frontlines," said Jason MacLean, NSGEU President.
Immediate solutions needed to improve safety concerns
"Something must be done, now, to address the very serious concerns our members are bringing forward," he said.
The NSGEU/NUPGE is calling on Randy Delorey, the Minister of Health and Wellness, to immediately establish a working group that includes all union stakeholders, government officials and NSHA management so that immediate solutions to improve safety at our hospitals for staff and patients can be identified.
tHE NSGEU/NUPGE is, once again, extending an invitation to Minister Delorey and Premier Stephen McNeil, to shadow one of our nurses to see what it is really like working on the frontline of the health care system today.
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