Even with a celebratory tone to mark International Nurses Day and the birth of iconic nurse Florence Nightingale, the message from almost 200 nurses and supporters gathered at the legislature was a stern one.

 


The dwindling number of nurses in health care is causing tension that is affecting not only the system, but the quality of service the nurses can give.

 


Heather Smith, president of the United Nurses of Alberta, said that nurse shortage was a “chronic illness” and that the Stelmach government needs a plan to deal with the almost 6,000 nurses who will either retire or quit in the next five years.

 


“We need a plan now to improve conditions and to encourage nurses to stay a little longer,” she said. “We need every nurse we can get.”

 


Out of 1,503 nurses polled, 68.7 per cent list their greatest concern as a shortage of nurses, while 45.2 per cent felt that the quality of health care over the last few years had deteriorated.