Sick leaves amongst B.C. health-care staff have elevated since begin of pandemic, knowledge exhibits

Sick leaves amongst B.C. health-care staff have elevated since begin of pandemic, knowledge exhibits

This story is a part of Scenario Important, a collection from CBC British Columbia reporting on the obstacles individuals on this province face in accessing well timed and acceptable well being care.

A stylized phrase reading 'SITUATION CRITICAL', made to read like a red heartbeat monitor.

Knowledge exhibits that sick leaves in B.C.’s health-care sector are up by a marked quantity in comparison with pre-pandemic ranges.

In response to numbers requested by CBC Information, a median of 9.7 per cent of health-care staff within the public system have been off sick for at the very least a day over the last three weeks of July and the primary two weeks of August.

That compares to six per cent of employees having sick hours weekly earlier than the pandemic, a quantity launched by Well being Minister Adrian Dix final month. 

The information has led to advocates calling for higher help for workers, and steps to cut back COVID transmission to cut back the burden on hospital staff.


“When it comes to there being a rise of health-care staff at present on sick go away, I am truly not shocked by that,” stated Adriane Gear, vice-president of the B.C. Nurses’ Union. 

“We have additionally seen a spike in COVID infections. Nurses and different health-care staff … sadly, they, too, are getting sick.”

Andrew Longhurst, a well being coverage researcher at Simon Fraser College, stated it’s particularly regarding that the illness burden has been excessive in the course of the summer time months, when respiratory sicknesses are normally not distinguished.

“Going now into the autumn, once we’re more likely to see even larger demand on health-care companies, we’re more likely to be persevering with to expertise important illness associated absences,” he stated. “It isn’t sustainable. It is clearly not working proper now.” 

B.C.’s public health-care system has been considerably impacted by closures over the previous few months. 

Longhurst says the scenario will possible proceed except the province makes concerted efforts to cut back illness transmission by common measures like masking and widespread testing.

Nurses might be getting sick at work

A spokesperson for the Well being Ministry stated they aren’t quantifying what number of staff are off sick with COVID throughout any given week.

“Whereas health-care staff are prioritized for COVID-19 testing, many are utilizing fast antigen checks, which aren’t reported in the way in which that PCR checks are,” the spokesperson stated in an announcement. “Not everybody who has signs is getting examined and never all health-care staff who do get a reportable PCR check establish as a health-care employee.

“For these causes, the variety of health-care staff who’ve examined constructive for COVID-19 is just not out there.”

However Gear says it is “completely doable” that nurses are getting sick with COVID inside hospitals.

“Nurses proceed to accumulate COVID, similar to different members of the general public locally, but in addition within the hospital setting,” she stated.

B.C. nurses working extra extra time

Gear says the illness burden, together with a common staffing scarcity, is resulting in many shifts going unfilled at hospitals — resulting in an “unsustainable” quantity of extra time hours being labored by nurses.

Knowledge exhibits that almost one-third of B.C.’s nurses have been pulling extra time hours this 12 months, greater than the nationwide common. Longhurst says analysis exhibits continued extra time results in poorer care and a rise in office accidents.

“It is truly very regarding as a result of [overtime] appears to be a main staffing technique and it is completely not sustainable,” Gear stated. “Typically you are taking good care of like twice as many sufferers as you’d usually.”


When requested what the province was doing to assist health-care staff, the ministry spokesperson pointed to hiring initiatives and psychological well being applications like Take care of Caregivers.

“We now have additionally labored with key companions — such because the B.C. Faculty of Nurses and Midwives, B.C. Nurses’ Union and well being authority management — to extend nurses’ consciousness of obtainable helps,” the spokesperson stated.

However Gear says the province’s proposed hiring initiatives are a “drop within the bucket” and there may be little being finished to retain staff at present within the system.

Because the nurses’ union’s collective settlement with the province has expired, they’re set to go to the desk with the province at first of October.

Gear would not say if any job motion is on the horizon for B.C.’s health-care employees, however she stated nurses are at present feeling disrespected.

“We all know that we’re revered and appreciated by the general public, however we have to see the federal government present us some respect,” she stated.