SUN takes to social media with patient safety message

SUN takes to social media with patient safety message

REGINA, February 10, 2014: In the wake of the recently agreed to extension of a pause on registered nurse position abolishment with the Ministry of Health, the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) launches a groundbreaking social media video campaign.

The four-week campaign, kicking off Monday, February 10, 2014, will feature daily, hard-hitting interviews with leading Canadian researchers and Saskatchewan’s own frontline registered nurses. They will be discussing exactly what the impact of having the right number of registered nurses at the point of care means to patient safety, quality of care and the health system as a whole.

“This campaign is incredibly timely; given the work [SUN] and the government will be undertaking during the pause,” says SUN President, Tracy Zambory “The evidence linking better registered nurse staffing to improved patient outcomes and even reduced costs to the system is really compelling, and we felt it was important we share this information with the public.”

On November 12, 2013, a pause was instituted by the Ministry of Health, asking Regional Health Authorities to stop abolishing registered nurse positions while a “deeper dive” into the relationship between patient safety and registered nurse staffing strategies could be investigated. This pause was subsequently extended until March 1, 2014 to allow more time for an evidence-based examination of data. 

“I think the goal behind this pause is to look at what having the right provider at the point of care means to patient safety overall , while safeguarding public trust in the system and the decisions being made,” continues Zambory. “We are hoping these social media videos will portray just how essential, research is saying, registered nurses are to quality care.”

Two renowned Canadian nurse researchers volunteered their expertise to the campaign alongside local registered nurses working in a variety of areas in the healthcare system ranging from emergency to neonatal intensive care. Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy is a Professor in the School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Professions, and Department of Community Health and Epidemiology in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University. She is also the Director of Dalhousie’s WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centre on Health Workforce Planning and Research, and a Co-Investigator at the Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto.  Dr. Sean Clark is Professor and Chair in Nursing Research and Innovative Practice at McGill University’s Ingram School of Nursing and Director of the McGill Nursing Collaborative.

“Everyone has a smart phone these days meaning we can reach people everywhere, instantaneously in a very relatable way using social media,” remarks Zambory. “It’s rather exciting, really – Its SUN 2.0”

The videos can be viewed on SUN’s social channels: Facebook (, Twitter (@SUNnurses) and YouTube (

SUN represents almost 9,000 Registered Nurses (RNs), Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs), Registered Nurse (Nurse Practitioner)s (RN (NP)s) and graduates in the province.


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1.       A snapshot of provincial patient safety data:

· The number of critical incidents reported to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health increased in 2012/13 from 2011/12 to 161 from 127, a 27 percent rise in one year.

· SUN membership telephone survey conducted on September 17 and 18, 2013:

o   67% of respondents said patient safety has not improved over the previous 12 months.

o   59% reported an increase in near misses, adverse events and critical incidents in their workplace over the previous 12 months.

· Work Situation Reports (WSR)s.  WSRs form part of the Nursing Advisory process, a function of the SUN/SAHO Collective Agreement, that enables SUN and the Health Regions to document unsafe conditions, near misses and adverse events. This process gives RNs/RN(NP)s/RPNs, who are not able to meet their professional obligations of providing safe and proper care to their clients due to working conditions, a formal mechanism to register their concerns.

WSRs in 2013:

  • 860 WSRs were filed by SUN members across Saskatchewan in 2013 (29.3 percent more than in 2012).
  • 84% of all WSRs filed were related to inappropriate staffing levels.

· The spring 2013 update from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) Hospital Reporting Project noted a continuing rise in “nursing-sensitive adverse events” in Saskatchewan facilities.

2.       Growing healthcare demands/strained resources:

· Record population growth in Saskatchewan - as of October 1, 2013, 1,114,170 people live in the province.

· The province has been adding an average of more than 5,300 people every quarter (3 months) since the beginning of 2012.

· Ageing population, with more acute and complex needs, and more chronic conditions.

3. Saskatchewan public values registered nurse care: 

·Decline in direct-care registered nurses in the province relative to the population – 2012 saw the first year-over-year drop in the registered nurse-to-population ratio since 2008.

· Public poll, October 2013: SUN annually conducts public research to gauge how people feel about the services provided by registered nurses in healthcare delivery, and about the system as a whole.

  • More than 80% of respondents felt registered nurses are key to service delivery.
  • Nearly four (4) out of five (5) respondents agree that registered nurses are experts at delivering health care.
  • More than six (6) in ten (10) say registered nurses have skills no other provider can offer.
  • Over two-thirds of respondents said there are too few registered nurses working in their communities.
  • Nearly seven (7) out of ten (10) respondents indicated they would be comfortable with registered nurse led teams.

·The survey, which ran from September 30 to October 13, 2013, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.22 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence level.

Media release + backgrounder 

Letter to SUN from Minister Duncan regarding pause on abolishment of registsred nurses