By Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — A report looking at Manitoba’s health-care overhaul recommends the government rethink its timelines because staff are overworked, morale is low and there needs to be more risk assessments before significant changes happen.
“It has reached the point where nurses can fear going to work, as they may not be able to return home due to requested and mandated overtime,” said the quality-assurance review by David Peachey, a health-care consultant who was hired by the former NDP government to come up with the initial reforms.
Peachey’s report said phase two of the health-care changes should be paused immediately while the process undergoes “repair and restore” activities.
Among many issues, the report notes that workload and staffing instability for nurses was not sustainable and proper risk assessments weren’t completed. The quality of nursing care to patients is compromised, the report said.
“Overall, confidence has been lost in Phase Two,” said the report.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen said he accepts Peachey’s recommendation and is open to changing timelines if needed.
“Of course, not everything has gone according to plan. There is no road map when it comes to fundamental system change for a health-care system,” Friesen said Monday.
The government announced last month that Peachey was being brought back to look at progress of the reforms.
Two weeks ago, Friesen suggested the plan was moving forward successfully but that the emergency room at Concordia Hospital would be replaced with a 24-hour urgent-care centre instead of a planned walk-in clinic.
Concordia is one of three Winnipeg hospitals that are having their emergency rooms closed or converted to another level of service. The other closures, at the Victoria General and Seven Oaks hospitals, are proceeding as planned.
Friesen insisted he was not evading concerns when he initially spoke about the results of the review. Key recommendations have been put into action, the minister said, and the health-care system is already functioning differently from when Peachey was commissioned five weeks ago.
Manitoba Nurses Union President Darlene Jackson said in a statement that the report does not offer solutions to the problems.
“Nurses are once again left wondering when they will see any relief to the serious problems that have been created in health care by this government,” she said.
Health-care workers have been voicing concerns about the changes for months, said NDP Opposition Leader Wab Kinew, and they should have been acted on immediately. During that time, he added, the report shows the problems turned into a crisis.
“When you have a consultant telling you that you need to pause things to repair and restore health care, it tells you that this government broke health care,” Kinew said.