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Health Sciences President Accuses Health Care Employers of Ignoring Patient Needs

Saskatoon (November 5, 2010) – The new President of the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan, Cathy Dickson, says health care employers have stalled contract talks with the specialized health care professionals represented by her union, ignoring the needs of Saskatchewan patients in the process.

“Patients are suffering and being put at risk by inadequate staffing levels for many of our professions,” Dickson told the Annual Convention of Health Sciences in Saskatoon.

“We want to get on with helping to increase staffing levels, and improving the recruitment and retention of the specialized professionals we represent, but we have now been 19 months without a contract, and health care employers continue to refuse to engage in meaningful negotiations. It’s frustrating for our members and it’s disheartening for the patients we serve,” Dickson said.

“Health Sciences has demonstrated a number of the problems created by health care employers. We have shown how a lack of perfusionists – the specialists who operate heart-lung machines during heart surgery – has resulted in cancelled surgeries in Saskatoon. We have shown how health bureaucrats in Regina have been trying to push patients out of hospitals before they are ready. We have revealed that ambulance services in Rural Saskatchewan are facing critical staff shortages, which has resulted in thousands of emergency ambulance calls a year not reaching the patient in a safe period of time. In the weeks to come, we will continue to speak out about how too many health care employers seem content to balance their budgets on the backs of patients and health care professionals,” Dickson added.

“While health care employers have refused to provide a monetary offer to Health Sciences professionals, they have also not yet responded to our requests for fundamental workplace information such as: what they consider the full, province-wide staffing complement to be for each of our more thirty professional groups, what level of service they expect those staffing levels to provide to patients province-wide, how many vacancies they currently have among our professional groups province-wide, and what impact these vacancies have had on waiting lists and response times for the public province-wide,” Dickson reported to Convention delegates.

“This is fundamental information the public has a right to know, but for some reason, to this point, it has been beyond the capacity of health care employers to provide. That does not suggest Saskatchewan’s health care services are being delivered efficiently and with the needs of patients first,” Dickson concluded.

Health Sciences is the union which represents more than three-thousand specialized health care professionals from more than thirty health care professions. Health Sciences members include: Emergency care workers like Paramedics; Acute care workers like Hospital Pharmacists, Perfusionists, and Respiratory Therapists; Rehab professionals like Physical Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists; and Community-based professionals like Public Health Inspectors, Psychologists and Social Workers.

For Further Information Contact:

Cathy Dickson, President, Health Sciences
306-960-5461

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