ICU Nurses Says Patients Will ‘Surely Die’ from Pandemic Plan Designed by Consultants Nurses Outnumbered by Patients as Many as 5 to 1

December 15, 2020

Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB—The Manitoba NDP is elevating concerns from ICU nurses who say an ICU reorganization plan that changes nurse to patient ratios, designed by KPMG, is putting patients at risk.

“At no time, and especially during a pandemic, should the bottom line come before patient care. That’s why it’s so disappointing to see the Pallister Conservatives once again hire Toronto consultants to manage our health care system and refuse to disclose that publicly,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “The real experts—those working at the bedside—say this plan is dangerous. It’s incumbent on the Premier and his Ministers to heed their warnings and hire more ICU nurses as quickly as possible.”

In November the Pallister government announced a three-phase plan to address critical care capacity in hospitals, part of which involved creating a team-based model of care. Emails obtained by the NDP show not only that the plan was designed by consulting firm KPMG, but that health care workers worry it will put the sickest patients at risk.

In an email to officials, ICU nurses at Health Sciences Centre called out the plan’s dangerous staff to patient ratios. Their ICU, which typically has a one-to-one ratio, has ballooned to as many as five or more patients for every one nurse. Nurses urged officials to re-consider, citing emotional strain, burn out and high pressure to deliver quality care to the sickest COVID-19 patients.

“Patients in ICU have the most acute and complex care—that’s why it is so important that nurses be able to focus on the needs of one patient at a time,” said NDP Health Critic Uzoma Asagwara. “A consulting firm focused on cuts just doesn’t understand that. Nurses are speaking out on behalf of their patients and they deserve to be heard by this Premier. We need to hire, train and re-train more ICU nurses immediately.”