Nova Scotia

22 layoffs in IWK mental health program

The IWK Health Centre has given layoff notices to 22 people, it confirmed Monday.

The IWK Health Centre has given layoff notices to 22 people, it confirmed Monday.

The children's hospital said it is reorganizing the programs that treat youth with mental health problems and will close eight beds and lay off 22 non-licensed personnel.

The cuts will improve access to care, according to Jocelyn Vine, vice president of patient care at the IWK.

The IWK is reducing overnight and weekend stays at both the 12-bed Adolescent Centre for Treatment that deals with severe behavioural disorders and mental health needs, and the same eight-bed Compass program for younger children.

"That's the amount of savings we need to invest more nurses and social workers ... so we can improve access to care. We're not reducing the number of staff we are changing the profile of staff. We're moving to professional level staff," said  Jocelyn Vine, vice president of patient care.

It's not budget cutting, the IWK said, but rather the hospital is beefing up daytime youth services and reducing wait times from 10 months to four weeks.

"There won't be a reduction in access to care, if anything it will be greatly improved," Vine said.

Joan Jessome said she's concerned about the 22 layoffs at the IWK Health Centre. (CBC)

The number of youths on a waiting list for appointments now drops from 1,000 to 70 because of the change, Vine said.

However the president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union said she's concerned about cuts.

"We don't believe it's not going to impact patient care, and certainly the members who are affected by this know full well what they deal with every day, Joan Jessome told CBC News.

"These kids aren't getting in there early enough and they aren't there long enough."

The IWK said some of these steps have already been made in other areas of the province.

Evidence indicated day programs are more successful than the weekend or overnight stays, the hospital said.