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Health Boards Cutting Nursing Jobs to Reduce Costs

Nursing jobs are being eliminated to reduce operating costs in medical facilities

Written by Maya on November 14th, 2011

Many health boards are currently taking heat from registered nurses accusing them of laying off nurses to cut their costs. Nurses argue that this process is un-fair because it forces the remaining nursing staff members to pick up the slack and work extra long hours and take on additional job responsibilities to fill the void created by the layoffs. When nurses are spread thin across many different patients and juggling too many job duties at once there is a strong chance that the quality of patient care will suffer.

Nurses are urging policy makers, hospital administrators, health group leaders and insurance companies to consider the long-term effects on patient care versus the short-term savings gained by reducing the number of nursing personnel. While layoffs might make the budget look better over the following few months, in the long-run the cost of running a facility with a severe staffing deficit can affect the bottom line and the reputation of the facility and its staff. There is also an argument about the value of preventive care and how these services can help cut costs over longer periods of time as patients will require less medical care. This must be considered in any discussion of nursing staff, budget balancing and facility operation.

The argument presented by health boards is that they are operating on a budget and they cannot afford an unlimited number of staff members and work hours. Many patients pay their medical bills using health insurance policies and the insurance companies work vigorously to limit the fees paid to healthcare providers. When the income is limited this puts a constraint on the costs that a facility can incur while operating. Therefore, the facility must balance its budget and make sure that costs don’t exceed income. Outside of fixed monthly expenses for overhead such as rent and utilities the next biggest line item on the expense sheet is employee wages. Since registered nurses earn a substantial hourly wage in addition to employee benefits, the number of RNs employed makes up a large portion of the overall expenditures.

While nurses are pointing the finger at health boards, the health boards might cite the insurance companies as the reason for budget struggles. Certain health boards might also accuse nurses of earning excessive wages and benefits. There will need to be a compromise between all parties involved in order to reach a resolution. In most cases this issue will be on-going and won’t resolve itself once and for all as circumstances and economics continue to change over time.

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Written by Nurses Link