Nurses fear cuts coming in Red Deer

The loss of almost 200 registered nurse positions since May has the United Nurses of Alberta concerned it could mean layoffs in Red Deer.

The loss of almost 200 registered nurse positions since May has the United Nurses of Alberta concerned it could mean layoffs in Red Deer.

Bev Dick, UNA first vice-president, said similar job cuts could hit Red Deer, but they haven’t heard of any specifically.

“We believe there is probably a whole bunch more coming,” said Dick. “We just haven’t heard and Alberta Health Services has certainly not been forthcoming with any kind of a plan.”

According to the UNA, they were told 13 registered nurse positions at Calgary’s Rockyview General Hospital’s Medical Assessment Unit were being eliminated on Wednesday. This is in addition to about 50 registered nurse jobs that have been eliminated in the facility since May.

Since the start of May, the UNA has been officially informed of the loss of about 200 registered nurse jobs.

“AHS is just saying change is coming, change is necessary, status quo isn’t good enough, but they’re not telling us what the bottom line is,” said Dick.

Dick also said these registered nurse positions are being replaced with health-care aides.

“They have very little education and training and there is no way a health-care aide can replace a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse and provide safe care,” said Dick.

Kerry Bales, senior vice president for Central Zone, Alberta Health Services, said late Wednesday that they are looking at all programs and services to identify things AHS could be doing better.

“We will be looking for cost efficiencies and making some tough decisions while still ensuring residents have access to the services they require in an appropriate and sustainable manner,” he said in a written statement to the Advocate.

“Decisions will be made at a local level. And any decisions around staffing changes will be not be made lightly. “We need to transform our system to promote better quality and better care while getting better value for every health care dollar. We are changing the way care is provided, and that will mean changes in jobs in some areas,” Bales said.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com