TORONTO, March 27, 2012 /CNW/ - Ontario's nurse practitioners issued a warning today that the government's budget target for health care spending will require major health system transformation, including further integration of nurse practitioners into primary care, if access to quality health services is to be maintained.
Today's budget plan looks to reign in health care expenditure growth while claiming to protect access for Ontario patients. Reducing growth in the health system to an average of only 2.1% over the next three years will require significant changes in how health care services in the province are delivered. As the Drummond Commission has noted, successful reform will require the province to embrace a patient-centered approach that makes greater use of the full range of skills of all health professionals.
"Ontario is at a critical juncture," says Claudia Mariano, President of the Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario (NPAO), "the status quo cannot ensure patient access is protected as health care expenditure growth is dramatically scaled back. Further reforms to fully leverage highly skilled professionals such as Nurse Practitioners are needed to ensure the future viability of our cherished universal public health care system".
Nurse Practitioners (NPs) represent one of the best opportunities to achieve better value from our existing complement of health providers. Better integration of NPs into the broader health system would improve public access to high quality service while offering the potential for significant cost savings.
NPs are registered nurses who, because they have met additional education and training requirements, have the authority to diagnose and treat common illnesses and injuries, admit and discharge patients from hospitals, as well as prescribe many medications. Studies have shown that nurse practitioners, when better integrated into primary care, can help reduce wait times, improve patient outcomes and satisfaction, while reducing health care costs.
While there has been some important progress in the province's use of nurse practitioners, there remain some significant barriers to their full integration into health care delivery. Indeed, as a result of compensation issues and limitations that have been placed on NPs ability to take advantage of their full scope of practice, Ontario is facing a growing NP recruitment and retention risk.
"Ontario's nurse practitioners are ready to work constructively to address, head-on, the challenges facing health care," says Mariano. "To succeed, we will need action to remove the unnecessary barriers which today prevent NPs from delivering the full array of services that the public expect and deserve."
The Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario (NPAO) is the professional voice for Nurse Practitioners in Ontario. Our mission is to achieve the full integration of Nurse Practitioners to ensure accessible high quality health care for all. For more information about NPAO and Ontario's nurse practitioners, you can visit our website at www.npao.org or follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/npao2
For further information:
or to schedule an interview with a nurse practitioner or a representative of NPAO, please contact: Daria Parsons, Executive Director. (416) 346 0072