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WRHA details implementation for Phase I of clinical plan to improve health care services

Region confident jobs available for all nurses

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Posted Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Today the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) provided an update on the health care service reorganization and consolidation reforms being undertaken to improve access to health care services through a more integrated and sustainable health care system.

The update outlined the specific human resource processes governing the reorganization of service delivery at Grace Hospital, Victoria Hospital and Misericordia Health Centre. These changes will ensure consistency of patient care and provide continuity of employment for the region's valued employees.

The first phase of clinical consolidation announced in April will begin in October 2017. This will see patients with similar care needs grouped together along with the specialized staff and diagnostic resources necessary to treat them appropriately. These changes will improve both the quality and efficiency of care by combining the right ratio of staff to patients in specific units, while enabling a full scope of practice for the region's highly skilled professionals through an enhanced clinical work environment.

"For too long, our wait times for services and lengths of stay in hospital have been out of line with accepted clinical standards and national averages," said Kelvin Goertzen, Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living. "We have some of the very best health care employees here in Manitoba but our provincial health system is far behind other jurisdictions that have already pursued these types of changes."

Goertzen added, "Our government has committed to Manitobans that on the other side of this clinical reorganization will emerge a better system. A better system for patients who will access the services they need more quickly. And a better system for our skilled health care employees, who will be able to work to the best of their abilities in an environment that better supports the delivery of care."

Assessments conducted by KPMG during the Health System Sustainability and Innovation Review revealed that staffing ratios at Winnipeg health care facilities are higher than those at facilities in other Canadian jurisdictions.

The WRHA previously announced that staffing ratios and mixes would be necessarily adjusted to improve patient care, as realignment and consolidation occurs and patients with similar care needs are grouped together, acting WRHA Chief Executive Officer RĂ©al Cloutier added.

"Focused care settings will allow us to ensure the right staff and clinical resources are located where they will best serve the needs of specific groups of patients, rather than having resources spread too thinly across a variety of sites," said Cloutier. "By introducing these changes in phases - across entire facilities as clinical consolidation is implemented - we will ensure that disruption is minimized for both patients and staff."

Phase I of the Healing Our Health System Plan involves clinical and staffing changes at Grace Hospital, Victoria General Hospital and the Misericordia Health Centre. In order to meet the implementation date of October 2017 for phase I, employment security notices have been issued to affected unions in accordance with the collective agreements governing staff at these three sites.

These employment security notices follow extensive consultation and mark the beginning of a formal process involving the hospitals, the employees and their respective unions. All participants share the collective goal of minimizing disruption to staff while making the most effective use of staff resources across the health care system.

Provincial Health Labour Relations Services and the WRHA have been meeting regularly with Manitoba's health sector unions to discuss the new staffing models and changes in service delivery.

Once these labour adjustment processes have been finalized, meaningful consultations will continue between the hospitals, their employees and the respective unions. Under the provisions of each relevant collective agreement, these processes are designed to minimize disruption and provide for continuity of employment. They occur in advance of the implementation date for changes and begin with the formal issuance of notices of position deletion to affected staff. For nurses, this will involve the posting of new rotations at Grace Hospital and Victoria Hospital.

For many staff, these new opportunities will be on the same unit or at the same site and staff are encouraged to consider all new and vacant positions on the basis of their interest, qualifications and experience. For nursing staff working within specialized units that are moving to a new facility, program transfer agreements will allow these specialized nurses to move with their program to its new location.

"Further details concerning labour adjustment processes will be outlined for staff in upcoming meetings," said Karlee Blatz, Regional Director of Labour Relations and Senior Legal Counsel for Human Resources at the WRHA. "These processes are all designed to provide staff with the opportunity to have a new position take effect at the same time their current position ends. Given the number of position vacancies and the increased staffing in a variety of areas, we remain confident that a job will be available to any nurse wishing to continue working in the region."

Productive discussions between Provincial Health Labour Relations Services, the WRHA and health sector unions continue in order to address employee questions and concerns. This will ensure the process itself causes the least possible disruption to the region's valued employees as clinical and operational changes are made to create a health system that better meets the needs of Manitoba patients.