Health care workers rally outside of Tantramar MLA Mike Olscamp’s office on Monday as part of their efforts to educate the public about recent cuts at the Sackville hospital. TOWERPHOTO
SACKVILLE, N.B. – Local health care workers say recent layoffs at Sackville Memorial Hospital is putting patient care at risk and they want the public to know how they will be impacted by the provincial government cutbacks.
“We’re here to let people know what’s going on,” said Bob Partridge, president of local CUPE 720-1, the union representing licensed practical nurses (LPNs), food service, housekeeping, maintenance and clerk admin workers at SMH, during a demonstration rally outside the local MLAs office on Monday.
Partridge said in recent weeks, six of the 12 LPNs at the Sackville Memorial Hospital have been given layoff notices. One-and-a-half clerk positions were also cut as well as a ward aid. The hospital has also seen the loss of a lab technician, a physio worker and an occupational therapist in recent months.
Partridge said it’s expected the now-vacant LPN positions will be filled by patient care attendants, who can be paid lower wages ($3/hour less) but have much less training than the practical nurses. A patient care attendant has a six-month training course while LPNs – who can do vitals, check blood pressure and catherize, for example – undergo two years of training.
“They (the government) said the layoffs wouldn’t affect patient care but they certainly do.
The Sackville hospital layoffs are amongst a string of cutbacks announced over the past few weeks by the provincial government, which is affecting hospital staffing levels throughout New Brunswick.
“And there’s more to come . . . “ said Partridge, noting that the government is now reviewing the OR and emergency departments at SMH.
Partridge said he worries for the future of health care in the province, with a government who seems to be willing to compromise the quality of care in an attempt to reduce spending.
“We want to make people aware the cuts are happening,” said Partridge, who said the local health care workers will continue to rally throughout the week in front of the MLAs office as part of their efforts to get the word out.