| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013 01:45 pm
Dressed in antiquated uniforms, a group of registered nurses rallied outside the Sturgeon Community Hospital Wednesday to bring attention to provincial layoffs.
Alberta Health Services announced a province-wide restructuring plan earlier this year that would replace registered nurse positions with licensed practical nurses and nurse aides.
The union United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) sees the cost-cutting as a shortsighted decision that will put patients at risk.
“The biggest concern is replacing regulated members – not just RNs but also LPNs – with unregulated, unskilled health-care aides,” said Orissa Shima, president of the UNA's local 85 Sturgeon Hospital branch, which represents approximately 400 RNs.
“(They) are a valuable member of the team, but should not be replacing the work of regulated professionals.”
At least 200 RNs have been laid off in Alberta over the last several months.
Although there haven't been any layoffs at the Sturgeon as part of the workforce transformation, Shima said there have been vacant job postings left unfilled or simply eliminated.
“For a site that always does more with less, it's concerning because we feel we can't afford any less than we have in terms of regulated professionals,” she said. “We work on the skinny as it is.”
Around 30 registered nurses joined the lunch hour “information” walk on Wednesday in their white uniforms. Shima said the old-fashioned dress makes them stand out from everyone else wearing scrubs.
“On some units it makes (patients) realize just how few registered nurses there really are when there's only one or two wearing white on a large unit.”
Information walks were also held in Edmonton, Drumheller and Okotoks.