Nurse shortage means some Halifax operating rooms are not running at full capacity: nurses' union head

Some operating rooms in Halifax aren't operating at full capacity and a shortage of nurses is the main reason.

"Some surgeries are being cancelled because of the nurse shortages," says Janet Hazelton, the President of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union.

According to the union, some of these cancellations are a rebooking of a previous cancellation, meaning some patients are continuously having their procedures delayed.

"Many of these patients have been already waiting for months and months to get their knee replaced or their hip replaced or their carpal tunnel fixed, says Hazelton.

Non-elective surgeries -- ones that can't wait -- are not affected by the nurse shortage.

Hazelton says recruitment isn't the issue, it's training.

"The community colleges and universities in this province have a waitlist. All of them have young men and women who want to become nurses," says Hazelton. "The problem is that we don't have enough seats to educate all the people we need to educate."

Recently elected Premier Tim Houston created the office of health care professionals and recruitment. Houston says increasing capacity at post-secondary institutions is also part of his health care plan.

"We're committed to fixing healthcare in this province and that's going to require trained healthcare professionals through a number of different avenues so we're focussed on it," Houston says.

According to the nurses union, Nova Scotia is currently short 1,100 RNs, 250 LPNs and 23 nurse practitioners.