South Island B.C. Nurses Union reps Judith Raymer (left) and Margo Wilton lead a rally with dozens of nurses along Finlayson Road and around the perimeter of Mayfair Centre on Thursday. Nurses say more nurses need to be hired to ease burnout and unmanagable patient workloads.

South Island B.C. Nurses Union reps Judith Raymer (left) and Margo Wilton lead a rally with dozens of nurses along Finlayson Road and around the perimeter of Mayfair Centre on Thursday. Nurses say more nurses need to be hired to ease burnout and unmanagable patient workloads.

Patient care falling through the cracks, nurses say

Nurses rallied on the streets in Victoria today to highlight worker burnout, staffing shortages and suffering patient care.

Nurses rallied on the streets of Victoria today to highlight worker burnout, staffing shortages and suffering patient care in hospitals across the province.

Chants from sign-waving B.C. Nurses Union members were met with honks of support as the small noonday parade walked the roads bordering Mayfair Centre. Nurses chose the mall area to hit busy Douglas and Blanshard streets.

“We want to let the public know we are very concerned about our ability to give safe patient care due to the workload and a lack of staffing,” said Margo Wilton, co-chair BCNU for the south Island and a veteran 18-year nurse in Victoria.

“Nurses go full-out for their entire shifts. They aren’t able to give level of care each patent deserves and is entitled to. There just aren’t enough nurses.”

Managing too many patients for the level of staff is a consistent problem for nurses across all sectors of care, Wilton said, be it emergency centres, intensive care, surgery or residential elder care.

“It’s getting to a crisis point. Nurses give up breaks, work past the end of their shifts, do everything they can to ensure patents get the care they need,” she said. “It’s becoming unmanageable.”

The nurses’ contract with their employer, the Health Employers Association of B.C., expired at the end of March and bargaining has been ongoing since January. Nurses say they aren’t looking for pay raises, just improvements in working conditions.

Adriane Gear, a 17-year nurse and co-chair BCNU for the south Island, estimates the system needs 2,000 more nurses to plug the gaps, such as through creating more full time positions. B.C. has about 32,800 registered nurses, with 49 per cent full time, and the remainder are part time and casual.

“We need overtime and casual (shifts) shifted to permanent positions,” Gear said. “We need to adjust the staffing model.”

Gear pointed to overcapacity at Royal Jubilee Hospital, for instance, where some recovering patients are housed in the emergency ward, which adds to the burden of emergency nurses.

“Nurses go an extra 10 miles a day to keep things running and safe. It’s not sustainable,” she said. “Burnout is huge concern.”

Health authorities and the Health Employers Association agree that workload is a challenge for nurses in some areas of care, and is a bargaining discussion point for the union.

But HEABC president Michael Marchbank said despite being talks since January, the nurses bargaining association hasn’t brought specific staffing or workload requests to the table.

“Workload is a major issue, but at this point there’s been no specific proposal,” Marchbank said. “(The nurses) indicate they will bring a proposal to the table. We are anxious to see what they have to say.”

Marchbank couldn’t say if there is room to fund more nurse positions, but noted there is “room for a modest wage increase,” as long as its found through cost savings elsewhere in the budget.

Nurses say negotiations are insufferably slow, but Marchbank said progress is happening.

“We have had constructive dialogue on a number of issues. We have had slow but steady progress,” he said.

editor@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

GardenWorks nursery in Oak Bay at its home until August. (Black Press Media file photo)
GardenWorks puts down new roots in Oak Bay this summer

Nursery shifts down The Avenue to fill former fitness studio space

O.K. Industries is building a quarry next to Capital Regional District land, as shown in this map from the rezoning applicaiton. (Photo courtesy District of Highlands)
Millstream Quarry wins again in court against Highlands community’s appeal

Judges rule province not obligated to investigate climate change before issuing permit

Saanich Volunteer Services Society volunteers head out to deliver this week’s meals to local seniors. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
VIDEO: Weekly meal deliveries help brighten the day for Saanich seniors

Seniors are delivered nutritional meals by a group of volunteers every Wednesday

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

Cheyenne, six, Savannah, three, and Jeremiah Sinclair, 8, were out on walk with their mother on June 4 when they discovered the first of several hundred fish that died after bleach leaked into Reay Creek. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Spill in Sidney’s Reay Creek turns into ecological lesson for local children

Federal-provincial investigation ongoing into what appears to be a bleach spill

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society, which has been operating a treatment centre on land leased from the Nanoose First Nation for 35 years (pictured), has begun a fundraising campaign to open a new centre near Duncan. (Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society photo)
New residential school healing centre to be built near Duncan

$5-million Indigenous treatmen centre will help survivors of residential schools heal

Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Vancouver Island lottery players win $1 million and $500,000 in Lotto Max draw

$1 million ticket sold in Campbell River, $500,000 ticket sold in Nanaimo

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Most Read