A study released yesterday (Tuesday) highlighted the increase in nurse’s workload from the pandemic, such as a vast amount of extra overtime hours.

In Canada overall, the average weekly overtime hours increased significantly from 6.6 in April 2019 to 9.7  in April 2020.

“We saw nurses continuing to put in significant amounts of overtime in the first quarter of the year,” said Christine Sorensen, President of the BC Nurses Union.

“Then they worked extremely hard in acute care systems like UHNBC hospital and moved patients out of the hospital back into the community and long term care.”

Compared with 2019, the change in nurses’ average weekly overtime hours has varied by region.

Nurses in Northern Health aren’t just dealing with COVID-19 patients during these overtime hours, they’re also dealing with the effects the pandemic has had on hospital schedules.

“Subsequently what we have seen is the Minister of Health just announced all the additional surgeries that have been undertaken over the last three months,” adds Sorensen.

“Those require a significant contribution of nursing hours, which will not just be done in regular times.”

Sorensen explains that many health care sites in Northern Health are currently operating with 25% fewer nurses than they should be, and this is before the pandemic even started.