Hundreds of hospital beds shut down across Quebec as staff go on vacation

As summer vacation season kicks off in Quebec, the province’s lack of medical staff is being felt throughout the health network and hospitals have to close beds so staff can go on vacation.

Health authorities say it's difficult to replace staff during the summer months, but activities are reduced

Hundreds of hospital beds will be closed throughout Quebec this summer. There are fewer surgeries during the summer, allowing staff to take a vacation. (Canadian Press)

As summer vacation season kicks off in Quebec, the province's lack of medical staff is being felt throughout the health network and hospitals have to close beds so staff can go on vacation.

Across the province, 553 beds will be closed in the coming weeks. This is a slight increase over last year and health authorities say the labour shortage is to blame.

Half of the closed beds are located in the Montreal area. For example, the Notre-Dame and Verdun hospitals are closing 40 beds.

This allows staff to take vacations during a time when the volume of medical procedures decreases at these institutions, according to Paul Millette, the deputy director of the CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal. 

"We have doctors taking vacations. We have staff taking a vacation," he said. "This allows our staff, our medical teams to take vacations and get back in shape for the rest of the year during peak periods."

From July 2 to Sept. 9, the CIUSSS du Nord-de-l'Île-de-Montréal will close more than 30 beds, but, a spokesperson there confirmed, there are less surgeries performed during this time as patients waiting for elective surgery rarely want to be operated on in the summer.

The McGill University Health Centre is closing 77 beds and Sainte-Justine is closing 30.

At the Centre hospitalier de l'Université Laval (CHU), more than 100 beds will be closed this summer. 

A spokesperson for the hospital says, as an employer, the CHU is obliged to grant annual vacations to its employees according to the established employment contracts and replacing those employees during the vacation months is no simple task.

In the Lower St. Lawrence, 30 beds will be closed. 

Danielle Savard, nursing director for the CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent, says vacations are certainly to blame, but the "lack of resources is one of the main reasons. This is really the main reason, considering that there is a lack of nursing resources, nursing assistants. So it's really a challenge to replace the holidays for the summer period."

With files from Radio-Canada


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