Liberals ignored nursing shortage at QEII for three months

February 17, 2015

NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald says the closure of four Intensive Care Unit beds at the QEII could have been avoided had Stephen McNeil not ignored a nursing shortage he was made aware of in November.

“The Premier and his Minister of Health have no excuse for allowing ICU beds to close at the province’s only tertiary hospital,” says MacDonald. “It just goes to show that when a government decides it would rather pick fights with health care workers instead of focus on patient care it can result in serious implications.”

On Friday, Feb. 13 the Chronicle Herald reported that four beds were closed at the QEII ICU forcing Capital Health to hire 10-12 travel nurses from two private firms as a stop gap measure. The Herald also reported there are currently 40 nursing vacancies in critical care areas at Capital Health.

On Nov. 14, 2014 during Question Period MacDonald informed the Premier that up to 50 nurses were retiring early in 2015 as a result of Bill 1 and asked what steps the government was taking to minimize the impact of the shortage. The Premier did not directly answer the question.

“The last time Capital Health faced a nursing exodus was in the 1990s under the last Liberal government and it took considerable time and resources to bring stability back to the system,” says MacDonald. “It’s troubling that history appears to be repeating itself under the McNeil government.”