Is it fair?
Vancouver’s Health Authority is giving pay premiums to some nurses, but not others.
Vancouver Coastal Health Director of Public Affairs Gavin Wilson says the incentive is to to deal with a chronic shortage of nurses causing hundreds of surgery cancellations.
“We’ve had to cancel, already, 300 surgeries between October and March, and we obviously don’t want to see any more surgeries cancelled, we’ve taken some pretty extraordinary steps.”
The $5/hour premium is being added to hourly wages for nurses in Vancouver General Hospital’s operating room to try and boost the numbers. Wilson adds the pay raise is temporary.
But the move is causing some frustration among other nurses. Wilson says that’s not what VCH intended.
“We just want to make it clear that Vancouver Coastal Health values all of our nurses. This is not an indication that we value some nurses more than others, it’s just temporary measures taken to address immediately changes that we are facing at VGH.”
That challenge? A 30% nurse vacancy rate in the operating unit.
He says it’s due to several factors, including the fact that nurses don’t like the OR shift rotations, and because much of the work is on-call due to the nature of transplant and trauma surgeries.
Wilson says the hospital needs to hire at least 35 nurses to make up for the shortfall.
An email from a CKNW listener, who asked not to be identified, says his wife is a critical care nurse in the post anesthetic care unit where patients go after surgery.
He says the issue for her and her co-workers is that if the OR nurses get a $5/hour premium and as a result, more surgeries are performed, it moves the bottleneck to the PACU.
He says that unit is also understaffed and under enormous pressure not to hold up surgeries.
The listener says it’s not about the money for his wife, but about her job conditions going forward.
That sentiment is echoed by many expressing disdain on social media.
The BC Nurses Union has not returned a request for comment.