Nurse to patient ratio over-working nurses, says union

A union representing some nurses in the province is calling for a guaranteed nurse to patient ratio, saying over-worked nurses mean patients may not be getting adequate care.

NSGEU calling on province for guaranteed nurse to patient ratios

NSGEU President Joan Jessome is hoping the government will see there's a need to hire more help through a series of videos which tell the nurse's side of things.

A union representing some nurses in the province is calling for a guaranteed nurse to patient ratio, saying over-worked nurses mean patients may not be getting adequate care.

The Nova Scotia General Employees Union said it wants to see the government commit to guaranteed nurse-patient ratios.

The NSGEU has begun a video campaign to lobby the province to hire more nurses. It plans to release more videos over the next ten weeks — one each week.

Patients, like Dan Petrie, are getting on board.

"I think the nurses are — I mean, they're stretched too thin," He said.

Petrie has been in the hospital for two weeks.

"I mean there's times when you ring your call button, for example, and it doesn't matter who it is and the nurse will respond on the intercom back to you and it will be like, 'OK, I'll be right there, I'm just going to finish with this patient. I'll be right there as soon as I can,'" said Petrie.

Joan Jessome, the president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, is hoping the government will see there's a need to hire more help through a series of videos which tell the nurses' side of things.

"They can't get vacation. They are working short all the time. They are seeing people readmitted to hospital on a regular basis," she said.

"They are questioning the issue of [medical] errors. They are going home not satisfied with the care they could deliver because they don't have any bedside time."

The province already has informal ratios for some areas such as the intensive care unit, where — for the most part — there is a nurse for every patient.

But Jessome said that needs to extend to more areas of the hospital.

"The crisis isn't in the future, the crisis is now. Because we're not only down nurses … the nurses that are working, are working an exorbitant amount of overtime," she said.

Jessome doesn't know how many more nurses need to be hired but said the cost would be worth it.

The NSGEU is in the process of negotiating nurse to patient ratios with the province. The province declined to comment on this new campaign.

Both sides are going back to the bargaining table at the end of the month.

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