27 new nurse positions needed to fix 'chronic understaffing' at Red Deer hospital ER, union says

The union that represents nurses in Alberta has filed a grievance against Alberta Health Services demanding it hire at least 27 new RNs to address chronic staffing shortages at the Red Deer Regional Hospital’s emergency department.

United Nurses of Alberta files formal grievance against Alberta Health Services

Alberta Health Services was forced to redeploy nurses from other departments on the weekend to deal with long wait times in the Red Deer emergency department. (Red Deer Regional Health Foundation)

The United Nurses of Alberta has filed a grievance against the province demanding it hire at least 27 new RNs to address chronic staffing shortages at the Red Deer Regional Hospital's emergency department.

"Despite media reports Saturday that AHS expects to resolve the nursing shortage today [Monday], UNA believes it is not possible to fix months of chronic problems without significant new nursing hires in the Red Deer Emergency Department," said a release from the United Nurses of Alberta.

Alberta Health Services was forced to redeploy nurses from other departments on the weekend to deal with long wait times in the Red Deer emergency department.

The union's grievance argues that AHS has failed to post vacancies in the Red Deer hospital's ER, resulting, over the past 10 weeks, in mandatory overtime and additional shifts for RNs equivalent to 27 full-time positions.

"It is important to understand that this is not a problem caused by a cluster of vacations but by chronic understaffing at this facility over a long period of time," said the UNA's labour relations director David Harrigan.

"UNA has been attempting to resolve this staffing crisis in Red Deer for more than two years. We felt we had no choice but to file a formal grievance under our collective agreement to resolve both patient safety concerns our members have and the workplace stress [that] chronic understaffing is causing."

The union says that as of June 6 there were 271 known vacant shifts in the schedule for the month of July alone, and that nurses are getting dozens of text messages per day putting them under pressure to work additional shifts.

The UNA is also asking to meet with the president and CEO of Alberta Health Services to resolve what it calls chronic understaffing at the Red Deer facility.


With files from Canadian Press