Don't fix what isn't broken: Nurses, communities, labour call for safe surgical care at Hamilton Health Sciences

HAMILTON, ON, Dec. 7, 2022 /CNW/ - Leaders and members of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) rallied alongside patients, community members and labour leaders today to call for Hamilton Health Sciences to staff up to start to clear surgical backlogs, and to provide an easy way for supporters to ramp up the pressure to save safe surgical nursing care.

Ontario Nurses' Association (CNW Group/Ontario Nurses' Association)
Ontario Nurses' Association (CNW Group/Ontario Nurses' Association)

"Hamilton Health Sciences is planning to cut nurses from their role in operating rooms," points out ONA Interim Provincial President Bernie Robinson, RN. "There is no shortage of surgical registered nurses here. This is purely a cost-saving measure and the price may be a patient's health and well-being. It's simply wrong."

Robinson notes that "a patient undergoing surgery is in a vulnerable and potentially unstable state. There are clear standards set out for the level of education and skill required to care for patients undergoing surgery. Patients can rapidly become unstable, and need their care providers to recognize when this happens and know what to do. This community is as alarmed as we are at the prospect of cuts impacting patients' lives. If this is allowed to go forward, similar moves in Ontario hospitals will likely follow."

She says that there is no reason why Hamilton Health Sciences and every hospital in the province should not expect well-staffed, functional ORs. "We know from the auditor's report that this government is underspending its health-care budget. We know we need to add more health-care staff of all categories and believe there is a place for everyone in the system. Adding more staff would go a long way to making patient care safer and more accessible. Cutting nurses will do the absolute opposite. Today, ONA reminded the community that they have a voice and they have influence. Now is the time to use it. Those attending the rally will receive an email tomorrow morning as ONA escalates its campaign to preserve safe patient care. The campaign makes it easy for people to voice their concerns and demand better staffed and safe surgical units.

"Hamilton residents deserve safe, quality care and OR nurses play a crucial role in ensuring our health needs are met," says Rolf Gerstenberger, Co-chair of the Hamilton Health Coalition. "They've made a difference in Hamilton. This hospital needs to stop cutting scrub nurses. There should be no cuts to OR nurses. That's why Hamilton Health Coalition is here to show support to RNs," he adds.

Robinson says that as nurses and patient advocates, ONA's goal "is to save nursing care in the OR and support surgeries, not to test drive a model that the provincial government will use as an excuse to privatize surgeries."

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association

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