Two lab technicians have been moved from other hospitals to cover a staff shortage at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. (CBC)

The Cape Breton District Health Authority could lose one-third of its lab technicians over the next few years and the effects are already being felt.

Spokesperson Lynn Gilbert says the first thing they are seeing are staffing issues.

"We do have some staffing shortages particularly at the Regional Hospital," she said. "And the Regional Hospital because it’s the major trauma and referral centre for the district, has to be open 24/7. If the Regional has a vacancy we have to move resources from the community sites to maintain the services."

She said the wave of retirements will happen in the next three to five years.

Gilbert says the changes will not affect patients or collection services. Some of the staff shuffling has already started.

"We will be moving two lab technologists, one from Northside General and one from New Waterford," she said. "Actually they've already moved and the routine testing work that they do, that's going to be moved to the Regional Hospital to offset some of the staffing shortages."

Gilbert said urgent testing will continue to be done on site in New Waterford and North Sydney.