TORONTO – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is getting loud about the health-care system concerns of front-line registered nurses, calling a code to highlight issues with health-care funding, registered nurse cuts and the violent attacks on registered nurses and allied health professionals.
“ONA has launched public awareness campaigns: Code Blue – to signify our concern that inadequate funding is risking the survival of our publicly funded, publicly provided health-care system, and Code White – to reveal the painful reality of workplace violence against nurses, whenever and wherever they are providing care,” said ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN.
“In health care, a Code Blue indicates a cardiac arrest,” she explains. “We are concerned that years of inadequate funding and the resulting RN cuts are flat-lining patient care. A Code White indicates that violence is imminent or occurring and that nurses – and their patients – are at risk of being injured.”
Codes Blue and White are being called in movie theatres, on radio and transit and through social media across Ontario.
McKenna says that, “we simply cannot continue to cut our highly skilled front-line RNs, or allow health-care professionals to be beaten, punched, kicked, scratched or stabbed while working to provide the care our patients rely on. As funding remains inadequate and RN positions are cut from hospitals, attacks on nurses rise. The vast majority of ONA’s 62,000 members report having experienced physical violence in the workplace.”
McKenna notes that there was an 11-per-cent increase in lost-time injuries due to violence in 2015. Injuries due to workplace violence occur eight times more frequently in the health-care sector than in manufacturing and 68 times more than in the construction industry. Ontario cut more than 1,600 RN positions in a two-year period, the loss of more than three million hours of RN care.
McKenna says, “The truth hurts – when nurses aren’t safe, their patients and families aren’t safe either. We need adequate funding, appropriate RN staffing levels, and accountable leadership among health-care employers. This would go a long way to curing what ails the system.”
“The public can answer these codes by speaking out at http://nursesknow.ona.org.”
ONA is the union representing 62,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.