(File photo by Advocate staff)

NDP blames government ‘inaction’ for staffing shortage at Red Deer hospital

The Alberta NDP is calling on the UCP government to “take action” in the wake of ongoing staff shortages that have caused bed closures in Red Deer.

Last week Alberta Health Services announced the temporary closure of seven emergency department beds at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. AHS said the emergency department continues to be operational – 49 spaces remain open for patients.

READ MORE: Seven emergency department spaces closed at Red Deer hospital

AHS also recently announced staffing shortages will close nine inpatient surgery beds at the Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Alberta. Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley joined nurses in St. Albert Monday as they held an information picket.

“At a time when other large provinces are providing incentives for nurses to move there, Jason Kenney is determined to drive nurses and other frontline workers out of Alberta. That’s a serious threat to the long-term strength of our public healthcare system,” said Notley.

“We have a backlog of Albertans with untreated conditions and we have an exhausted healthcare workforce. Yet, the response from Jason Kenney and the UCP is to threaten to cut their wages. It’s shameful.”

Orissa Shima, a registered nurse of 21 years, who has worked at the Sturgeon for the last 15 years, said closing inpatient surgery beds is not a normal practice in the summer and is the reason why the hospital currently has more than 26 vacancies resulting in critical staff shortages on some shifts.

“Nurses are tired. We’ve been working full out, short staffed, extra shifts, overtime, mandatory overtime, and we are feeling depleted,” Shima said.

“We want people to know their healthcare is at risk. Less nurses means less care for Albertans. At a time when we are critically short staffed, to the point we are closing beds across the province, we should not be chasing nurses out of the profession.”

The NDP says health care bed closures have also been reported in Edson, St. Paul, Boyle, Elk Point, Galahad, Westlock, Fairview, Rocky Mountain House, Cold Lake, Lac La Biche, High Prairie, Slave Lake, Wainwright, Rimbey, Lacombe, Barrhead, Grande Prairie and Edmonton.

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