BCNU: Province’s fall pandemic plan lacks specifics on hiring, recruitment strategies for nurses

THE BC Nurses’ Union said on Thursday that it commended the government’s efforts to mitigate a COVID-19 surge on top of normal influenza cases, but remained concerned around what plans are in place to effectively educate, recruit and hire the thousands of nurses required to meet the growing demands on BC’s health care system.

Long before COVID-19, government projections showed BC would need upwards of 25,000 new nurses in the next 10 years to keep up with health care demands. Despite the pandemic plan’s focus on “building and strengthening health human resources capacity across hospitals,” BCNU President Christine Sorensen said it lacks specifics around on how the government plans on addressing the province’s nursing shortage.

“We need details around a health human resources plan specific to nurses,” says Sorensen. “The government is focused on keeping hospitals open and surgeries booked while managing COVID-19 surges and cold and flu season, but they must also be focused on how they are going to ensure they have the nurses required to manage the increased workload and continue an ‘all hands on deck’ approach.”

Sorensen said acute care facilities generally see significant patient surges during cold and flu season, and past seasons’ overtime numbers are an indication of the significant staffing crisis in BC.

“With COVID-19 and the government’s surgical re-start program in effect, nurses are already operating at levels that aren’t sustainable. We need the government to develop a clear plan that shows how it intends to provide the nursing care British Columbian’s need now and into the future in acute care, long-term care, community care and public health,” she said.