WeRPN is raising the alarm about the government’s recently announced plans to allow nurses and other healthcare professionals to work outside their regular responsibilities, in an effort to address staffing challenges in hospitals. The association believes that the government’s plan poses significant risk to patient safety and places additional burden on nurses.
“We all want to work together to address critical staffing shortages in our hospitals, but asking nurses to provide care outside their scope of practice is not the solution,” says Dianne Martin, CEO of WeRPN. “Scopes of practice are carefully outlined by our regulatory body for a reason, taking into account education and skill level. The reality is that you don’t always know what you don’t know and putting additional pressure on nurses to work outside their scope will only add further stress to our frontline nurses, who are already reaching a breaking point, and ultimately put patients at risk.”
According to a recent survey conducted by WeRPN, 93 per cent of Ontario nurses have already reported experiencing increased workloads in the past two years and 87 per cent have had to take on more patients, with continuously increasing nurse-to-patient ratios. This proposed legislation will further compromise the quality of care by asking nurses to take on even more responsibilities outside of their scope. With an alarming 47 per cent of Ontario RPNs considering leaving the profession and nearly 7 in 10 seeing patients' health being put at risk because adequate time is not available, WeRPN is deeply concerned that asking nurses to take on even more will only further exacerbate the nursing crisis we’re trying to solve.
WeRPN is urging the government to make meaningful investments in our publicly funded healthcare system to help retain the nurses we have as well as recruit more nurses to meet the growing needs of Ontario’s aging population. The association is calling on the government to immediately withdraw its appeal of Bill 124 and establish competitive and harmonized compensation for nurses across all sectors that reflects the work and the current realities and growing demands of our health system. WeRPN is also recommending the government expand access to nursing education and establish nurse-to-patient ratios to ensure patients can receive safe and quality care.
Now is not the time for band-aid solutions or expanding for-profit care. Instead, WeRPN urges the government to strengthen the public healthcare system Ontarians rely on by immediately implementing the outlined actions, which healthcare and nursing leaders have been calling for.