Nursing levels low and getting lower

Yesterday,  I wrote about the significant lack of nursing care in Ontario hospitals compared to the other provinces.  Even on a Canada-wide basis, there was 5.32 hours more nursing care per patient than in Ontario in 2010-11 (year end March 31).  

That sounds kind of shocking.

But it looks like it is getting worse.  Other data from CIHI indicates that over the course of 2011, Ontario hospitals lost thousands of nurses. Specifically, there was a sharp reduction in the number of Registered Nurses (RNs) working in Ontario hospitals in 2011, with a cut of 2,750 RNs to 58,699 according to new CIHI data.  That is a loss of 4.5% of RNs.  

Compounding the problem,  there was a decline in the number of Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) working in hospitals in Ontario as well, with the numbers declining from 13,373 in 2010 to 13,126 in 2011.  That's a decline of 247 RPNs  -- or a loss of 1.8% of RPNs in one-year.  This is a significant change from the previous years: there was 19% growth in RPNs employed in hospitals between 2006 and 2010.

Overall, 2,997 nurses were lost from Ontario hospitals in 2011. In total, that is a loss of 4% of nurses - in one year. 

That doesn't sound good. 

Given the much tighter funding that hospitals are facing in 2012 and 2013, I'm expecting the levels of nursing care in Ontario to fall further behind.  

Unless something is done about it.

Photo: Lower Columbia College

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