Opinion: COVID, burnout, cuts pushing health care in Edmonton to tipping point

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Another alarm bell ringing is the rate of health-care worker burnout. The pandemic has been challenging for everyone, but this has been especially hard on our health-care staff. We are nearing a crisis due to hundreds of nurse shortages. Re-deployment of a health-care worker from one service to another is easier said than done. Unfilled nursing shifts due to COVID-19 exposures, illness, child care, lack of overtime, budget cuts, and fear are having devastating implications.

This has required certain health-care departments to use mandatory overtime staffing which actually means forcing individuals to work overtime. Individual nurses are running out of steam by working significantly more hours. Morale is low. Depression is high. It is quite possible that patients will not have a nurse assigned to them.

Another major strain on our health-care system is the provincial government’s plan to cut 11,000 Alberta Health Services positions. This is puzzling considering we are still in the pandemic fight of our lives with no end in sight. We believe most health-care workers understand that Alberta’s economy is struggling, and work needs to be done with the government to ensure our public health-care system remains economically sustainable.

However, this is not the time to be cutting jobs and funding for critical resources. Those 11,000 jobs are health-care workers who provide services we rely upon for patient care. Government cuts are contributing to a system that is overwhelmed and at a boiling point. We need to be working together to ensure Albertans have timely access to health care.

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