Public Values

Cancer-care nursing cuts in London, 20 per cent loss of critical nursing knowledge

Cuts to nursing staff will result in longer wait times, risks in complications.

Cuts despite clinic not being over budget, no management jobs cutLondon, Ontario area cancer patients will face longer wait times and increased risks as the London Health Sciences Centre cut sixteen nursing jobs, warns the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA). Five of its 22 full-time and four of its part-time front-line primary care nurses providing outpatient cancer program care and all seven registered nurses (two part-time, five casual) working in the Ontario breast screening program have been eliminated.

The cuts occurring in the hospital's cancer clinic represent the equivalent loss of more than 14,000 hours of front-line nursing care annually and the loss of 20 per cent of the critical nursing knowledge, support and care for patients and their families.

"London Health Sciences Centre is risking the health outcomes of our most vulnerable patients," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "The London region has a higher incidence of cancer than the rest of the province and cutting these RNs is cutting care to our patients.

  "None of the nine management positions at the clinic have been eliminated and the clinic is now recruiting four more management positions."

"Adding an extra patient to an average RN workload increases the rates of morbidity – complications – and mortality – death – by seven per cent," Haslam-Stroud adds. "It's outrageous that these cuts will subject our outpatient cancer patients to more risk."

The Cancer Centre has been a lifeline for patients who have been living with cancer. A year ago, the London Regional Cancer Centre cut its pain and symptom management nurses. The primary nurses who remained are increasingly concerned that more nursing cuts are going to leave significant gaps in their ability to provide patient care.

The hospital says the clinic is not over budget and that it has been told to decrease its wait times for referrals. Yet the association says cutting 14,000 hours of front-line care will not decrease wait times for referrals. None of the nine management positions at the clinic have been eliminated and the clinic is now recruiting four more management positions. Nursing cuts are occurring throughout the province, despite the nursing shortage here and country-wide.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association is the union representing 55,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals and more than 12,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

Links and sources
  Ontario Nurses' Association site

Posted: February 18, 2010

  Health care
  Front lines

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