The numbers are astounding.
More than seventy-three million dollars in overtime was paid to nurses in two Metro Vancouver health authorities last fiscal year.
And some nurses are cashing in huge paychecks as a result.
The top overtime earning nurse raked in an additional one hundred and twenty-four thousand dollars.
Minecar Li worked an extra fourteen hundred and sixty-nine hours, more than twenty-eight a week.
BCNU President Gayle Duteil says it’s not surprising.
“The system relies on nurses working overtime.”
In particular, we lack specialized nurses.
“Having regular employed nurses has kind of been on the back burner for a number of years.”
For their parts, Fraser Health Authority and Vancouver Coastal Health say they have policies to minimize consecutive shifts.
VCH adds an average RN only claims about fifty-one hours of OT a year.
“We are making progress.”
That from BC’s Minister of Health after it was revealed more than 70-million dollars was spent on overtime for nurses in Metro Vancouver’s two health authorities, last fiscal year.
Terry Lake admits excessive hours could have an impact on a nurse’s health, as well as patient care.
“Patients should be confident that we are working with the BC Nurses Union and the health authorities to reduce the number of overtime hours that nurses are faced with, particularly in specialty nursing. We have made quite a good improvement, nine percent decrease in overtime hours in the past couple of years.”
NDP health critic Judy Darcy says it’s unacceptable.
“The province also has to be very clear with health authorities that the way that we are spending health care dollars has to be on ensuring that there are increased number of nurses, rather than working nurses on the job to the bone.”
Lake says the province has invested 5 million dollars for more specialty nurse training.