Nurses forced to work double shifts as emergency rooms overflow

Nurses at an east end hospital have signalled the alarm over crowded emergency rooms and overworked staff.

Management at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital last Saturday told nurses to work double shifts--16 hours, according to the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ).

"If you are told you have to stay 16 hours, mentally, and physically, you may not have the capacity to give the proper care to the population," said Denyse Joseph, FIQ vice-president.

The next day, Sunday, some nurses called in sick. They were overworked, burnt-out, Joseph said.

The shortage of staff did nothing to ease emergency room overcrowding, which has been particularly bad this year due. Almost every hospital is at or over capacity.

The health minister, Denise McCann, has promised to abolish forced overtime, and is partially to blame for the lack of adequate care, Joseph said.

"Doing a double shift once every blue moon. Nobody's going to complain about that. But doing a double shift almost every day you come to work. That's very dangerous," she said. "She needs to come out and do something."

Measures have been taken to deal with a lack of nurses, the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital said in a statement. The provincial health ministry said more staff had been hired, and additional clinics opened. 

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