WRHA admits spike in OT, wait times not solely flu-related

Publish date: Friday, May 11, 2018

Regional Health Authorities

Last week, a senior WRHA official admitted wait times in the WRHA were actually going up, and skyrocketing mandatory overtime at St. Boniface hospital is not due to the flu. WRHA officials and the Minister of Health have claimed that worsening ER wait times and excessive overtime use had nothing to do with Phase I of their health care changes implemented last October.

On Wednesday May 4, Lori Lamont (WRHA Acting Chief Operating Officer and VP, Nursing and Health Professionals), was asked about these issues by CJOB 680 anchor Richard Cloutier. The interview followed MNU's Rally for Safe Patient Care at the Manitoba Legislature, where over 1,000 participants voiced opposition to ongoing cuts and changes across Manitoba.

Here is a transcript of the exchange (click here to download the full interview, file courtesy CJOB):

Cloutier: In 2018 are wait times actually up?

Lamont: Month over month and year over year we did see the improvement go down during particularly January, February and into March. Largely that was due to increased volumes, but we are seeing the numbers come down again in April. Our April wait times compared to April of last year are better.

Cloutier: So the nurses are right?

Lamont: The nurses are correct that certainly our system was stressed, particularly our emergency departments were stressed by the significant flu outbreak we had this year. But overall year over year we still are seeing the improvement we anticipated.

Cloutier: They are saying it’s not about the flu, it’s not really about the flu. What do you say to that?

Lamont: Well the stress on our emergency departments this winter was largely due to the flu. Certainly, some of the issues we’ve had, particularly in the Women and Child area at St. Boniface Hospital was not flu related. The changes necessary at St. Boniface to change the schedules and to come up with the new staffing patterns that needed to be put in place have created some difficulties and some short-term vacancies at St. Boniface, particularly in the Women and Child area and so certainly, you know the flu is not the sole cause of stress on our system over the winter months.

Simply put, Lamont admitted that nurses were right: wait times in the WRHA have increased since the changes, and overtime issues at St. Boniface Hospital, particularly outside the Emergency Department where most of the OT has been occurring, were not flu-related and were actually caused by changes to schedules and staffing patterns.

MNU will continue to advocate for nurses and for patients to ensure the truth about the effects of the provincial government’s changes and cuts to the health care system are heard.

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