May 2, 2019 – At the OTPP Network on May 2 and 3, the union representatives first took the time to reflect on their professional practice in line with the safe healthcareprofessional-to-patient ratios.
Successive reforms and management practices borrowed from industry have caused job insecurity and excessive workloads, as well as an abusive use of mandatory overtime (MOT), widespread use of substituting job titles and absences not replaced. The negative impacts of exhausted and under-staffed teams are many: stress, dissatisfaction, more frequent work injuries and accidents. These phenomena have an impact as much on the healthcare professionals’ health and safety as that of their patients. All of these factors are at the root of the problem of attracting and retaining staff in the healthcare network.
Healthcare professionals are distressed when they become aware of the widening gap between their skills and professional values and the care they can regularly give in this difficult work context. They are then forced to prioritize, in spite of themselves, certain care to the detriment of other care, qualified as “omitted”.
A Québec survey showed that lots of care cannot be provided or that it is given partially or too quickly because of the excessive workload. Healthcare professionals should not have to make agonizing choices in the care delivered. They are also incapable of occupying their full field of practice.
Even if the healthcare professionals are dedicated to providing the best possible care, the population’s right to receive safe care is compromised. Thanks to safe ratios, a team of a minimum of healthcare professionals for a group of patients with similar health problems, the healthcare professionals can finally have practice conditions conducive to a full and
rewarding professional practice.
The safe ratios project is not only a union demand, but also a social demand. Making the public aware of poor management practices is critical for the purposes of advocacy, defending and promoting patients’ rights and interests.
The real shortage in the healthcare network is a shortage of good practice conditions that allow a rich and fulfilling professional practice. Safe ratios have proven their worth elsewhere in the world and even here in Québec, as the ratios projects have had positive impacts.
Québec needs a law on ratios as soon as possible because it is a viable solution for the Québec healthcare system that will save lives, speed up healing and respect the patients’ dignity.
A gradual and carefully planned implementation of the ratios everywhere in the province will retain the healthcare professionals in the network, keep them healthy, attract new recruits, improve care quality, regain the public’s trust, and lastly, resolve the impasse in which the public healthcare network finds itself.