London

London psychiatric residents won't walk off the job, hospital says

Hospital officials met with London Health Sciences Centre psychiatric residents Monday afternoon over working conditions and COVID-19 safety concerns, saying they were able to head off a threatened job action.

Psychiatrists threatened to walk off the job when 10 people had to quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure

The entrance to Victoria Hospital at the London Health Sciences Centre. (Dave Chidley/CBC)

Hospital officials met with London Health Sciences Centre psychiatric residents Monday afternoon over working conditions and COVID-19 safety concerns, saying they were able to head off a threatened job action.

The doctors stated there is a crisis in mental health care that has been made worse by the pandemic, illustrated by the fact that 10 people were exposed to coronavirus on Oct. 11 and had to quarantine. 

In a letter to LHSC leadership, those working at the Centralized Emergency Psychiatric Services (CEPS) said they would stop working on Tuesday to protest their working conditions, including the recent COVID-19 exposure in a workroom which forced four residents, two nurses, two medical students, and two staff physicians to self-quarantine.

But LHSC said it met with the residents and there will be no job action, at least for now.

"LHSC and physician leadership has met with the CEPS residents,"  the hospital said in a statement.

'Reckless disregard for patient care'

"There is currently no job action, and we will be meeting with them again later this week. We will not be providing further comment while we work to address the concerns of the residents," the statement reads.

 A spokesperson for the residents said he agrees with the hospital's statement that both parties have met, and he won't be providing further comment.

Residents are doctors who have finished medical school but are training in a particular specialty. 

In their letter to LHSC leadership, they called the CEPS workroom an occupational hazard where it is impossible to socially distance. They say there has been "institutional suppression" of their attempts to advocate for a safer workplace and a "reckless disregard for patient care standards and frontline healthcare workers' lives."

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