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'Extremely dire': Nurse union VP says staffing in B.C. hospitals is worst she's ever seen

The vice-president of B.C.'s nurses union says the staffing shortages and wait times in hospitals across the province are the worst she's ever seen.

Adriane Gear, BC Nurses' Union vice-president, spoke on CTV Morning Live Friday saying nurses that were hired by health authorities are taking leaves, resigning or choosing to work for private companies.

"I'm a veteran nurse and I can tell you that it's absolutely the worst that I've ever seen it," Gear said.

"We've certainly been dealing with short staffing for many years, calling on government for a comprehensive plan to address the nursing shortage but here we are. It's extremely dire."

Gear said it's her understanding that nurses working in a health-authority setting currently "have very little autonomy over their work-life balance."

"They can't get time off, they're working excessive amounts of overtime, being redeployed and some nurses are seeing it as a better option to work for a private company where they have some control over the shifts they work," she said.

CTV News Vancouver has reached out to the Health Ministry for comment.

Even with nurses shifting to private companies, Gear said they're still a "finite resource" in local hospitals.

"We continue to be very short-staffed in all B.C. hospitals, in our community settings and our long-term care," she said.

One thing that may help is to fast-track internationally trained health-care workers. Gear explained government has provided some funding to make this happen, adding that there are "good intentions" to improve the process.

Gear said the problem, however, is that nurses still need to be assessed to see if they require additional training and there's a limited number of nursing instructors available.

"While there's some funding there, we haven't yet seen sort of any benefits of how fast people can become credentialed," she said.

"We're hoping that that might be one partial solution, but really that's just a drop in the bucket." Top Stories

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