Thompson General Hospital lab critical to northern health care services down to two technologists, an 80 per cent vacancy rate
Remaining staff desperately trying to maintain service but reaching breaking point
January 15, 2024 – Treaty 1, Winnipeg – The Thompson General Hospital (TGH) lab, essential to health care services in the Northern Health Region (NHA), is at risk of collapse following years of chronic understaffing and the December 2023 departure of a technologist. The lab continues to operate 24/7 despite being down to just two medical laboratory technologists, putting patients and staff at risk.
According to the Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals (MAHCP), the union representing 7,000 specialized health professionals across 44 professions, lab technologists are in high demand. Shared Health has not taken sufficient steps to recruit and retain diagnostics professionals in the North, despite the deteriorating situation in Thompson.
“We are burning out our lab technologists with unsustainable overtime and overwork caused by not filling critical vacancies. Meanwhile, other jurisdictions are outcompeting us when it comes to recruitment and retention incentives,” said Jason Linklater, President, MAHCP. “Saskatchewan is offering lab technologists a $40,000 incentive, yet Manitoba is still not doing anything to address grave deficiencies in staffing and working conditions to ensure we retain these professionals.”
MAHCP confirmed that technologists were not available to perform urgent tests on two emergency room patients, after working several days in a row without adequate time to rest. Lab technologists perform vital diagnostic tests used in emergency patient care to assess life-threatening conditions such as cardiac failure, renal failure, pregnancy complications, internal injuries caused by accidents, and more.
“The reality is that Thompson General Hospital lab has only been able to continue operating because of the superhuman efforts of two remaining technologists. Imagine performing intensive work that requires accuracy and attention to detail with one hour of sleep over the course of 48 hours? The current staffing situation is unsustainable.”
In November 2020, the lab’s seven technologists flagged the seriousness of the crisis in a letter to WRHA leadership. Then, in April 2023, MAHCP launched a campaign with the goal to secure much-needed staffing resources for the team, which was down to just three technologists.
“MAHCP is once asking again for Shared Health and government to take action. We can’t afford to lose any more technologists.”
The Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals is a union representing more than 7,000 allied health professionals working in 40+ professions across Manitoba. For more information on MAHCP, visit www.mahcp.ca
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