Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan

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Health Regions Deliberately Under-Staffing Health Care Professions

Yorkton (May 26, 2011) – Saskatchewan Health Regions are deliberately under-staffing specialized health care professions in an attempt to balance their budgets at the expense of Saskatchewan patients, Health Sciences President Cathy Dickson said in Yorkton.

“In every health region, the specialized health care professionals we represent report a lack of casual or part-time staff to back them up when they fall ill or go on leave. They also report that when there are vacancies it will take months, sometimes more than a year, for the health region to advertise and replace full-time professional staff,” Dickson reported.

“Saskatchewan’s chronic under-staffing of specialized health care professionals has created long waiting lists for some health care services, and stretched the limits of patient safety for others. Here in the Sunrise Health Region hospital pharmacists are so short-staffed that they no longer provide one-on-one medication counselling to patients as they are discharged. Mental health programs and services are in disarray as the region has lost all four of its psychologists, and waiting lists for physical and occupational therapy continue to grow. These are just a few examples,” Dickson added.

“Health care employers and the Wall government have tried to deny that ‘vacancy management’ is a key part of budget planning in Saskatchewan health regions, but now one of their own health regions is bragging publicly about how cutting services to the public has contributed to its budget surplus,” Dickson noted.

“In a news release this week, the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region reported a $2.3 Million operating surplus, and attributed that surplus in part to: “staff vacancies in a number of community-based programs, including mental health, therapies and home care”. This same health region recently gave its CEO a 60% salary increase. The public gets a cut in services, while health care managers get big bonuses for cutting those services!” Dickson noted.

“In every health region, chronic under-staffing is rewarded by the Wall government with big bonuses for health care managers. How is that putting patients first?” Dickson asked.

“This is further evidence why independent, binding arbitration is needed now to settle the ongoing contract dispute between Health Sciences and health care employers. An independent expert can review the full facts, and set the terms of a new contract in a fair and reasonable manner. The public strongly supports this alternative. We support this alternative. It’s time for the Wall government and health care employers to show the courage of their convictions and support independent, binding arbitration as well,” Dickson concluded.

For Further Information Contact:

Cathy Dickson, (President, Health Sciences)
1-306-361-5655

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