Minister announces government will act on $85m budget commitment in coming weeks for recruitment and retention

TORONTO, Sept. 23, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care for Ontario, spoke to more than 500 Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and invited guests at the Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario's (NPAO) Annual Conference in Toronto.

"We were thrilled to hear the Minister affirm the government's commitment to invest $85 million to existing primary care teams so that they are able to attract and retain qualified staff," stated Theresa Agnew, NPAO's Executive Director. "The turnover that was happening as a result of the wage freeze has had tremendous negative implications on our patients."

"It's about time!" stated Wendy McKay, NPAO's President and a primary care NP. "Nurse Practitioners and clinic staff have had their wages frozen for up to 10 years and as a result we have seen many NPs leave their community clinics for better paying jobs elsewhere leaving patients with no continuity of care. Some of them end up going to walk-in clinics and emergency departments instead."

The Minister also spoke about the government's platform commitment to ensure that, by 2017, every Ontarian who wants one will have either an NP or a GP that they can access for regular health care or when they are sick, as close to home as possible. 

Currently, nearly 1 million Ontarians report not having a primary care provider. Shawn Robinson, a patient who participated on a panel with Dr. Bob Bell and André Picard, Globe & Mail health reporter, spoke about her difficulties in accessing a primary care provider.

Nurse Practitioner Led-Clinics (NPLCs) are one way to achieve the Wynne government's Primary Care Guarantee.

"Nurse Practitioner Led-Clinics in Ontario are a game changer," stated Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "The 25 NPLCs our government funded now care for 60,000 people.  We need more NPLCs. The Patients First Act is an opportunity to expand those clinics and their positive outcomes for patients."

The Minister stated that it is important for all health care providers to work to their maximum scope and ability. Currently, Ontario is the last jurisdiction in Canada to enable Nurse Practitioners to prescribe controlled drugs and substances. This hinders NPs from being able to adequately provide palliative care, pain control, treat mental health and addictions, and provide medical assistance in dying. The Minister is committed to enabling NPs to prescribe some controlled drugs and substances by the end of this fiscal year. Theresa Agnew stated, "This will really help put patients first!"

About the Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario: NPAO is the professional voice for 3,000 Nurse Practitioners (NPs) in Ontario. Our mission is to achieve full integration of Nurse Practitioners to ensure accessible, high quality health care for all. NPs provide services to the people of Ontario across the health care system in variety of settings including community clinics, hospitals, long-term care homes and in patient's homes. NPs practice in inter-professional team with a broad range of health care providers. NPs independently diagnose illness and health care conditions, prescribe drugs, and order x-rays and laboratory tests for their patients. NPs can also admit and treat patients in hospitals and long-term care homes. For more information please visit http://npao.org.

SOURCE Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario

Image with caption: "Minister announces government will act on $85m budget commitment in coming weeks for recruitment and retention (CNW Group/Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160923_C5933_PHOTO_EN_780674.jpg

Image with caption: "Minister announces government will act on $85m budget commitment in coming weeks for recruitment and retention (CNW Group/Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160923_C5933_PHOTO_EN_780676.jpg

For further information: Theresa Agnew, Executive Director, tagnew@npao.org or (416) 417-1803; Hoda Mankal, Director of Communications, hmankal@npao.org or (613) 818-0205.

RELATED LINKS
http://www.npao.org

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