HAMILTON - The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) warns that a recent move by Newfoundland and Labrador’s Regional Health Authorities to suspend support for several professional development activities puts patient safety at risk.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Health and Community Services has recently directed the Regional Health Authorities to look at discretionary spending and find efficiencies. Professional development activities, and associated travel, have been curtailed as part of this initiative.
“While we understand the need for financial vigilance, we are concerned to see professional development not being approved, especially for those professionals working in the highly dynamic and ever-changing laboratory,” says Tricia VanDenakker, President of CSMLS. “Though PD activities may reside within a discretionary budget, the activities themselves should not be looked at as superfluous.”
“Even though the Department of Health and Community Services and Eastern Health have been quick to assure us that all mandatory training and education will be continued, we have heard from our members that many requests are not being approved,” adds Christine Nielsen, Executive Director of CSMLS. “Continuing education and professional development are essential to providing a high standard of laboratory services.”
The suspension of professional development activities directly opposes the recommendations made by the Honourable Margaret A. Cameron in her 2009 Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing.
In her recommendations, Justice Cameron states, “Continuing education is vital in any area that continues to have new developments, particularly laboratory medicine…. Regional health authorities should support this effort by providing staff with the time required to complete the courses and the funding to pay for them.”
The tightening of the financial bootstraps comes as Newfoundland prepares legislation that will regulate medical laboratory technologists along with other health care professions.
“The Health Professions Act is a positive step forward for Newfoundland and Labrador and will help provide safe and reliable laboratory services for patients in the province,” said Ms. Nielsen. “The legislation recognizes the important role Medical Laboratory Technologists play in the health care system and demonstrates a commitment to seeing this valuable service delivered to a high standard.”
The regulation of medical laboratory technologists will set forth mandatory continuing education to ensure the maintenance of skill and competency. However, if supports for these activities are not in place, it will place an unfair burden on those same professionals.
“CSMLS applauds the work done in Newfoundland since the Cameron Inquiry,” says Ms. VanDenakker. “We know the government and the Regional Health Authorities are working diligently to provide the highest standard of laboratory service for all Newfoundlanders. Continuing education is a vital component of this vision and we hope to see it appropriately resourced.”
The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science is the national certifying body for medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory assistants, and the national professional society for Canada's medical laboratory professionals. Incorporated in 1937 as the Canadian Society of Laboratory Technologists, the society has over 14,000 members in Canada and in countries around the world.
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Phone: 905-528-8642 ext. 8693