As two public health emergencies plague BC’s healthcare system, nurses aren’t celebrating this National Nurses Week.
That’s according to the British Columbia’s Nurses Union (BCNU), following a Tuesday afternoon rally held at the steps of the BC Legislature in Victoria.
BCNU president Aman Grewal says the healthcare system is buckling under pressure, forcing the union and its members to plead for more action to be taken by the provincial government.
“Enough is enough. We need action now,” she said.
On Monday, the BCNU hosted a vigil in BC’s capital to give nurses, first responders and families time to reflect on the impacts COVID-19 and the opioid crisis have had on healthcare.
The BCNU says staffing concerns, working conditions and patient care are top of mind for nurses, calling them “long-standing problems” impacting their mental health and patient care.
According to Grewal, 82% of BCNU members surveyed last year admitted their mental health has worsened over the pandemic.
A more recent BCNU survey found that 51% of 3,500 nurses working in Emergency Room and Intensive Care Unit settings are ready to call it quits.
Mix that in with record-breaking hospitalization numbers, and the BCNU is renewing calls for government action and immediate solutions to address the healthcare system.
“On a daily basis, nurses are facing an unmanageable number of patients who need care, and despite all of their very best efforts, they’re watching their patients suffer,” added Grewal.
“As a result of this pressure, nurses are burnt out.”
We are in a healthcare crisis, says Premier Horgan
Another group, BC Health Care Matters, is preparing to host a rally at the BC Legislature to bring more awareness to ongoing doctor shortages locally and across the province.
The rally, set for Family Physician Day on May 19th, encourages participants to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with organizers and medical professionals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Voicing frustration, the group launched Bring back our Family Doctors and our Walk-in Clinics earlier this year—a petition that has gained over 37,000 signatures.
BC Premier John Horgan says the province is in a “healthcare crisis.”
“It’s not just doctors,” Horgan told reporters in late April. “It’s nurse practitioners; it’s registered nurses, it’s care aids, it’s the continuum of care. We need more social workers; we need more psychologists.”
A “massive infusion of cash” is needed from Ottawa to deliver public healthcare programs, according to Horgan, who says the system will “continue to erode” without more federal funding.
“The challenges, whether in long-term care, doctor shortages, primary care issues, acute care, hip replacements, knee replacements… you name it. The lineups are getting longer because we don’t have the resources to manage them.
“I’m confident that [Health Minister Adrian Dix] has a plan, but the plan will take resources, and I’m working with other Premiers and the federal government to get those dollars in place.”