Nfld. & Labrador

Health boards too big for public good: NAPE

The largest public service union in Newfoundland and Labrador wants the provincial government to appoint an inquiry into the size of its amalgamated health-care boards.

System working better since amalgamation, minister insists

The largest public service union in Newfoundland and Labrador wants the provincial government to appoint an inquiry into the size of its amalgamated health-care boards.

NAPE president Carol Furlong said front-line staff with Eastern Health and other boards have become isolated from managers. ((CBC))
The provincial government decided in 2004 to merge hospital, nursing home and community health boards into four large boards to co-ordinate services.

Carol Furlong, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, said management of the boards is isolated from front-line staff and patients.

"We don't think it's doing the job it was supposed to do," Furlong said of the new board structure. "We think it's unmanageable.… They've been a nightmare for most of the people involved, since they've been put in place."

The Eastern Health regional board alone, for instance, covers the Avalon, Bonavista and Burin Peninsulas, and serves about 290,000 patients— or close to 60 per cent of the province's population.

With 12,000 workers, it is the largest direct employer in Newfoundland and Labrador, and manages seven hospitals, six community centres and clinics and other services over a wide geographic area.

Eastern Health, which became operational in early 2005, provides services to almost 60 per cent of the province's population. ((CBC))
"They probably have to realize that this is just too excessive a workload for us as well. It's not just people in the front lines but the powers that be, as well, trying to deal with the daunting task ahead of them," Furlong said.

Furlong wrote to the Newfoundland and Labrador government on Tuesday to ask for a review. She is suggesting a panel that would consist of an independent chair, a member of the public and a worker representative.

Health Minister Ross Wiseman, though, said there is no need for any such review.

He told CBC News on Wednesday that the system now is seamless, and that public services have improved because of the merger.