Ontario Nurses’ Association Alarmed by London Health Sciences Centre Bed Closures: Cuts will harm vulnerable patients

October 7, 2019

LONDON, October 7, 2019 – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is deeply alarmed by planned bed closures at London Health Sciences Centre that have come to light.

“As a registered nurse from London, I am very concerned that the hospital is planning to close 11 beds in its Burn and Plastics Unit, and an additional 38 beds,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “Both as a member of the community and as an RN, I want to know that if someone needs high-quality care, there will be a bed available. The news of 49 bed closures makes this less likely.”

ONA Local 100 Coordinator James Murray, RN, agrees. “This is very bad news for our patients,” he says. “LHSC is continually overcrowded, with our patients being warehoused in our emergency departments, left on stretchers in hallways, closets, and other non-patient care areas.

“The closure of 11 beds in our Burn and Plastics unit means that burn patients will be put at increased risk of infection,” he says. “They will have to be transported out of the area for special treatments required. This is too risky for these highly vulnerable patients.”

McKenna notes that the hospital has been cutting registered nurses by stealth.

“The official line may be that the closures will have ‘minimal’ impact on jobs,” she says, “but we have seen that LHSC is leaving RN vacancies throughout the two sites. When an RN resigns or retires, the hospital is not filling that position and those RNs left behind are often working short-staffed. This is not good news for patients. Fewer RNs equates to longer waits for patients, more complications and risks for patients.”

McKenna and Murray say that the government and the hospital leadership have an obligation to ensure that when a patient needs care, that care is available to them. They urge area residents to call their government and the hospital to account. LHSC is currently spending millions of dollars on capital projects, electronic patient records, and more, even as patients cannot access the quality of care they need and deserve. “That is simply unacceptable,” they say.

ONA is the union representing more than 65,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as more than 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

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For more information:

Sheree Bond (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430; cell: (416) 986-8240; shereeb@ona.org

Ruth Featherstone (416) 964-8833, ext. 2267; ruthf@ona.org