Nurse practitioners must not be ignored

More than one million Ontarians don’t have access to primary care. There often are not enough doctors to keep our emergency rooms open or our hospitals operating.
Ontario families are frustrated and often afraid because of these growing waits.
When it comes to health care in Ontario, the McGuinty government has yet to realize there is a very effective and economical way of improving health care services.
In Ontario, we have a trained and able group of professionals ready and willing to take on many of the services presently only available in doctors’ offices.
It’s a time to recognize the full role that can be taken on by nurse practitioners.
Nurse practitioners are nurses who have received additional training so they can make a diagnosis and write prescriptions. However, in Ontario today, there are far too many unemployed and under-employed nurse practitioners.
As well, they face legislative barriers which limit their scope of practice.
This is a horrible waste of Ontario’s health care human resources.
Nurse practitioners have the skills and training to take much of the burden off our overstretched health care system. When it comes to providing primary care, diagnosing ailments, repairing broken bones, writing prescriptions, and performing tests and treatments, nurse practitioners can fill an important role.
However, the McGuinty government has dragged its feet when it comes to allowing nurse practitioners to provide these service, and to take on a role that would help ensure all Ontarians get the front-line health care services they need.
This failure to act on this matter is failing Ontarians.
We need to rethink the way we provide primary health care services in Ontario. We need to take advantage of the skills of our nurse practitioners. We need to remove the legislative barriers and allow nurse practitioners access to their full scope of practice.
We need to create more clinics and health care centres that allow nurse practitioners to practise to the full scope of their training. We need to provide better primary care to the one million Ontarians currently without access.
We need to allow family doctors to focus on practising family medicine and emergency rooms to focus on taking care of medical emergencies.
This is an easy solution to our constant concerns about our overstretched health care system; an easy solution the McGuinty government is ignoring.
There is no excuse for this willful ignorance. The College of Nurses, the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, and the Ontario Nurses’ Association all have called for legislative changes that would allow nurse practitioners to provide these solutions.
Considering the challenges faced by our health care system, the McGuinty government has no excuse for continuing to under-utilize the skills of our nurse practitioners.

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