Nursing students backstop Toronto ER in ‘tight situation’

An Ontario nurses’ union says it fears health-care staffing shortages may worsen in the Toronto area after a hospital network in the city had to use nursing students and medical residents to backstop an emergency department over the weekend. 

University Health Network says it was in a “very tight situation for staffing over the weekend” and an ER was supported by staff across different units, including medical residents, personal support workers and nursing students.

UHN also says inpatient units expedited discharges and worked to quickly admit patients from the ER to wards. 

The situation comes at a time when hospitals across the province have said they’re struggling to manage workforce shortages

UHN runs two emergency rooms – at Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals – but didn’t say which one was affected over the weekend. 

The Ontario Nurses’ Association says it was “shocking” that a Toronto hospital had to ask for back-up staff to keep its ER open, noting recent temporary ER closures have mostly been concentrated in rural areas. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2022.