Are dissatisfied nurses a sign of failing health care system?

Matthew Coutts
Nurses' overtime declining from previous years, CEO says.

An anonymous poll of frontline workers can yield startling results – that is what happens when employees have a chance to vent without the fear of retribution.

In a recent CBC News poll, Canadian nurses were offered just that opportunity. And a quarter of them gave the thumbs down to their hospitals.

Twenty-four per cent of nurses polled said they would not recommend loved ones seek help at their place of business. One of the major concerns was that staff shortages were threatening quality of care.

The worst results were from Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and British Columbia. Ontario hospitals specifically have been hit with recent job losses and staff shortages.

"When they look around them and they realize that they couldn’t recommend that facility, it tells me that they're recognizing how dire their practice is," an Ontario Nurses' Association vice-president told CBC.

The survey could be considered proof of what many have openly feared – that belt-tightening is threatening Canada's health care system. Those on the front line would have the best view as the system starves, and the impact it has on patients.

On the other hand, this could simply be a case of office griping gone public. It is possible that, given the chance at anonymity, 25 per cent of any workforce would complain about their conditions.

So what do you think? Is this a sign that Canada needs to improve the state of its health care system?