Wilson introduces nurse-to-patient ratio bill to protect patient safety

March 31, 2015

The NDP are calling on the McNeil government to protect patient safety by legislating nurse-to-patient ratios in Nova Scotia hospitals. Health Critic Dave Wilson made the announcement at the Nova Scotia Legislature this morning and will introduce the Patient Safety Protection Act later today.

“We’ve seen the impact the nursing shortage is having not only in HRM but in rural communities such as Shelburne,” says Wilson. “Right now nurses are understaffed, overworked and overtired. We need to protect the health and well-being of our nurses and the patients they care for.”

Tracey Livesay, a veteran critical care nurse at the QEII hospital, says nurse-to-patient ratios would improve working conditions and help attract and retain nurses. “It’s stressful to be short-staffed and to be constantly working overtime. It’s not good for nurses or patients,” said Livesay.

The bill amends the Hospital Act to require the Minister of Health, in consultation with nurses, to set minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in Nova Scotia hospitals. The ratios will be determined on a unit-by-unit basis. The bill also ensures greater accountability and transparency by requiring the government to regularly report data on nursing levels and adverse patient events.

Following the passage of Bill 1 in September, a large number of nurses decided to retire early stating they were fed up with how they were being treated by the McNeil government. As a result of a lack of qualified nurses, ICU beds at the QEII were closed earlier this year and Capital District Health Authority was forced to hire travel nurses on a temporary basis. A nursing shortage has also been blamed for an 800% increase in ER closures at the Roseway Hospital in Shelburne.

“For the past year while Stephen McNeil and his Health Minister have been busy picking fights with health care workers, patient care in our province has deteriorated,” says Wilson. “This needs to end. Ensuring minimum nurse-to-patient ratios would be a step in the right direction.”