Northern Health discusses staffing in TR

Lynsey Kitching


The Northern Health employee count has gone from 7,146 in January, up to 7,444 as of the Northern Health board meeting a few weeks back. This increase is found in both full-time and part-time employment.

One of the main topics of discussion at the meeting was staffing, particularly in Tumbler Ridge.

The Human Resources Board Report October 2013 reads, “Recruitment action plans are a strategic initiative to track and dedicate special efforts for difficult-to-fill positions. There are currently two Recruitment Action Plans in place for an RN in Tumbler Ridge and a par-time Combined Lab and X-Ray Technician (CLXT) in Tumbler Ridge and Hudson’s Hope. Working with the Hiring Managers for these two areas, Recruitment Action Plans have been initiated. Recruitment has closed one Recruitment Action Plan in Chetwynd successfully and expects the Tumbler Ridge plan to close soon. Tumbler Ridge has recently been approved to open new full-time nurse positions,” the report continues, “Recruitment is working with the Director of Business Development and the Northeast HSAs, to contact industrial and community partners. The objective is to collaboratively identify opportunities to increase recruitment and retention of qualified staff.”

“We are actively recruiting for Family Practice in Tumbler Ridge. The Joint Standing Committee has designated Tumbler Ridge as one of the Rural Physicians for British Columbia (RPs4BC) communities, making this an attractive practice opportunity,” states the report.

The year in review for Northern Health shows the external vacancies as of Sept. 18 to be 82, down from 92 when last reported.

The majority of the positions are found in northeastern BC, with 37 openings, followed by the northern interior with 29 and the northwest with 16.

Of these openings, 27 of them are nursing positions; 14 in the northeast, eight in the northwest and five in the northern interior.

When using the Physician Human Resource Master Plan for the northeast, Northern Health would like to see 65 family practice physicians, but as of the report there are 54. Since January there have been six new physicians welcomed to the northeast, but unfortunately there have also been 10 physicians who have left.

In the northwest, they have a higher quota of 86 physicians, and as of now there are 73.5. Since January the northwest has seen the arrival of four new physicians, but the departure of three.

Through the Rural General Practitioner Locum Program, there were 957 days used by communities who needed a physician. Of this total, over 50 percent of these days have been utilized by Fort St. James, Burns Lake, Fraser Lake and Queen Charlotte. Tumbler Ridge has required less than 20 days, one of the fewest numbers. For the last three years, the number of days required by locums has been steadily decreasing throughout Northern Health.