Nurses who specialize in putting in intravenous needles at major hospitals in the Lower Mainland will lose their positions as of September.
The Fraser Health Authority is cutting IV nurse teams at Burnaby General, Royal Columbian and Surrey Memorial in a move that will save $600,000 per year.
Regular floor nurses will be trained to perform all injections, including IV insertions, said Roy Thorpe-Dorward, spokesperson for Fraser Health.
"This is the way it's managed at all other Fraser Health hospitals, and it's pretty much the standard in hospitals across B.C.," he said, noting the decision was based on the specialized teams being overburdened with the number of patients waiting for IVs.
"The idea is to be able to provide the service to patients across the system when they need it."
In total, 10 specialized nursing positions will be lost; one at Burnaby General, four at Surrey Memorial and five at Royal Columbian.
The nurses in the specialized positions will likely be moved into other positions at the hospitals, based on seniority, according to the B.C. Nurses Union.
However, the union is calling the decision to cut the teams a move in the wrong direction.
"We certainly do not see this cut in the best interest of patient care," said union vice-president Janice Buchanan, who suggested specialized nurses are important for IV insertions because the procedure can be challenging and time-consuming.
"It's a skill you need to be doing on a regular basis and it can be a very distressing procedure for a patient... you want skilled, experienced nurses that can do it efficiently," she said. "Nurses on the floor could learn and be proficient, however, they have such high volumes of work on these medical units."