With the provincial government shouting from the rooftops that it plans to put more emphasis on mental health and addictions in this province, the news late last week of nursing positions being cut at Prince County Hospital and at Mount Herbert likely left many shaking their heads in disbelief.
Thursday, the P.E.I. Nurses Union issued a release late in the day expressing its shock that positions were being cut at the inpatient mental health unit at Prince County Hospital and at the Provincial Addictions Facility in Mount Herbert.
In total, Health P.E.I. confirmed that the equivalent of 4.5 full-time positions are being deleted.
“It is unbelievable to me that Health P.E.I. and the government have created a mandate that has, as its primary goal, a focus on improving the mental health and addiction services provided to Islanders and yet they think reducing the current number of registered nurses is a logical place to start,” said O’Shea.
The registered nurses who work at these two sites are highly-educated and highly-trained, providing expert care to patients at the two facilities who suffer from mental health illness and addictions issues, that can be complex and difficult.
It’s a move, the union feels is money driven, aimed at saving dollars.
And, even though Health P.E.I. says that isn’t the case, it would, appear that the union might just be right.
Health P.E.I.’s Rick Adams said that deleting 2.4 RN positions at PCH and the 2.1 at Mount Herbert will make the way for more licensed practical nurses to be hired.
The LPNs, who receive less training than registered nurses and make a lower wage, will, said Adams, be “working within their scope of practice,” adding he’s confident patients’ needs will be adequately met.
But, when asked, Adams would not say that the move was being made strategically to free up money to hire more LPNs, although, he admitted, “On the surface that may seem what it looks like.”
The move is all part of the province’s Model of Care, first introduced in 2010 and is close to being fully implemented.
If the province wants to put greater emphasis on improving mental health and addictions care in this province, eliminating registered nursing positions would appear to be the wrong way to go about that.
Why not add LPN positions to existing nursing positions so that the quality of care won’t just remain the same but improve?
That, to most, would seem to be the logical first step to improving care in these fields.