ER Nurses Write to the Health Minister about “Agency Nurses”.

49 E-R Nurses at St Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon have written a letter to the Minister of Health Everett Hindley to talk about several issues, but the big concern is “agency nurses”. These are qualified nurses who are brought in on an as needed basis. They get higher wages, and accommodation is paid for by the Ministry of Health. They also have their meals covered.

The nurses who signed the letter say this hurts morale in health care, as the permanent staff don’t get these benefits. The letter goes on to say that with the number of outside “agency nurses” being brought in part time and casual nurses are unable to get enough hours. The Nurses at St Paul’s say while some of the “agency nurses” are well qualified to work in the Emergency Room, some simply are not. Those inexperienced nurses then add to the workload of other experienced nurses on staff.

The nurses are wondering how the government has money for better pay and benefits for “agency nurses” but not enough to recruit and retain local nurses. The letter says several million dollars are spent on “agency nurses”, money that could be put towards finding and hiring staff to be permanently employed in the unit.

The letter was sent earlier this month, and released today by the Saskatchewan NDP.

“This tired and out-of-touch government’s over-reliance on out-of-province travel nurses is proof that their health human resource plan isn’t working,” said Rural and Remote Health Critic Jared Clarke. “We need to be focused on taking care of the nurses who take care of us. Our health system needs wide-scale reform, and that starts with changing the culture that’s driving nurses out of our province.”

The names of the nurses have been redacted.

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