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Hospitals are reassessing NTA assignments to try to reduce costs

Hospitals are reassessing NTA assignments to try to reduce costs

‘It’s going to bankrupt health care’: Spending on temp agency nurses up more than 550% since pre-pandemic at one Toronto hospital network

The cost of nurses on temporary assignment (NTA) skyrocketed at the University Health Network of Toronto (UHN), which owns University Health at St. Michael’s Hospital, in just one year.

The cost of nurses on temporary assignment (NTA) skyrocketed at the University Health Network of Toronto (UHN), which owns University Health at St. Michael’s Hospital, in just one year.

More than 550 per cent increase

In 2018, staff assigned to NTA — which generally refers to hospital employees who work for free or on a reduced schedule on a temporary assignment — rose by more than 550 per cent from 2016 to 2018.

NTA staff at University Health at St. Michael’s Hospital, which owns the hospital network, said they experienced “an unprecedented increase in hours and patient loads” in the first half of 2019, according to a presentation to the Toronto Medical Association, a private group of physicians.

NTA staff are expected to remain busy for months while the hospital network searches for permanent nurses.

But in an attempt to reduce costs, management has been reassessing the way NTA assignments are handled.

“You’re talking about a $1.7 million hit,” said NTA specialist Karen Monsef, adding that the change is happening this spring at six medical institutions.

The hospital network — which includes the University Health Network of Toronto, the University Health Network of Windsor, Women’s College Hospital, Toronto East General, Women’s College Hospital at Toronto General, and St. Michael’s Hospital — has implemented measures to try to reduce costs.

“We’ve said we’re going to go down a path that is sustainable and sustainable within the budget,” said UHN president Dr. David Himmelstein, citing a need to avoid “a major increase in the amount we spend on NTA.”

The hospital network is also looking at changing how it assigns N

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