Nurses who want to speak out against the government’s Lean experiment in health care say they are being bullied, intimidated and even punished. NDP Leader Cam Broten is demanding the premier step in immediately to end the culture of fear forced on nurses, investigate the claims and guarantee protection for nurses who need to speak out to protect patients from harm.
It was revealed through the media late Friday that nurses are being told that they have to support Lean, or risk recrimination including professional consequences and even being “put in a time-out room,” according to publicly reported comments from the president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN), Tracy Zambory.
To ensure nurses don’t make negative comments about Lean online, the government’s health managers tell nurses they are monitoring their social media.
Broten is demanding a letter of protection from the premier, giving nurses the right to speak out against any issue they identify as a risk to patient safety. Broten is also calling for an immediate investigation into the threats, intimidation and punishment tactics being used against nurses and other front-line health care workers in Saskatchewan.
“I am horrified to hear how nurses and front-line health care workers are being treated within this government’s Lean experiment. When they're being warned not to identify problems because it doesn’t fit with the government’s pro-Lean messaging, that absolutely sounds like a cult,” said Broten.
“Shutting down a nurse who has identified a patient safety concern is dangerous and wrong. Threatening a nurse who wants to advocate for better health care is very disturbing.”
Broten has received hundreds of complaints about Lean from patients and health care professionals, most of which specify they don’t want their name or personal story revealed.
“I see how intimidated health professionals feel,” said Broten. “They’re afraid for their jobs – but they’re writing to me because they’re especially afraid for their patients.”
Broten has called for the Lean contracts – for which just one American consultant is being paid $40 million – to be cancelled, and the money saved used to make improvements on the front lines of health care. Several years into the Lean contracts in health care, the government’s own statistics show patient care, safety and satisfaction is getting significantly worse.
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