The Manitoba Nurses’ Union is challenging the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s statement that hospital wait times improved after carrying out a major health care overhaul in the province.

According to the WRHA wait times have improved by 16 per cent since it began its healthcare consolidation strategy. It said the median wait time has improved to 1.62 hours from 1.93 hours from 2016 to 2017. It also said the length of stay for in-patients has improved by 6 percent.

The WRHA said wait times in ERs have recently increased due to a busy flu season.

“This just reinforces the need to continue with the consolidation Phase 2 planning to make sure the sub-acute capacity is there,” said Krista Williams, chief health operations officer of the WRHA.

“And we are taking all of the information that we are learning in the last few months and incorporating that into our deliberate planning for consolidation Phase 2.”

But the Manitoba Nurses’ Union said these numbers don’t reflect the experiences of its members.

“We have been hearing for months that patient volumes have increased beyond the WRHA's anticipated levels, emergency rooms are frequently crowded, and nurses are stretched thin,” the union said in a statement. “At St. Boniface nurses are still working unprecedented levels of mandatory overtime that began after the changes were implemented. It's misleading to claim that monthly wait time increases since October are due to the flu rather than the implementation of Phase I. It's time for the WRHA and the provincial government to acknowledge that their changes are not working as planned."

The WRHA also said it is seeing improvements with its personal care home wait list. It said there are fewer seniors waiting in the hospital for placement than in any other year. Right now there are 12 people waiting.