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Saskatchewan’s health-care workers want their voices to be heard when the province begins distributing federal health-care funding announced Wednesday.
Under the agreement in principle, Saskatchewan would receive a one-time investment of $61 million in health care funding and an additional $111 million annually over 10 years.
Saskatchewan College of Family Doctors president Dr. Andreas Muller says one in six Saskatchewan residents currently does not have a family doctor, leading to long wait times at the province’s emergency rooms and walk-in clinics Used to be.
He wants to see a significant portion of federal funding go toward restructuring the way primary care is provided in the province.
Muller co-authored an op-ed titled ‘Physician-Led, Team-Based Care is the Path to Better Access for Patients’ with Dr. John Gevre, President of the Saskatchewan Medical Association.
Mueller says a team-based care model would allow family doctors to have a team of medical practitioners such as nurses, pharmacists and social workers perform tasks in their clinics that do not necessarily require the family doctor’s expertise. be required.
“Not everything that a patient presents should be seen by the family doctor,” Muller said. For example, getting wax out of the ear: if you have a good office nurse who can do that, it frees up the family doctor to deal with more complicated patients.
“Maybe if I see them sooner, I can keep them from going to the emergency room.”
team based care
Mueller says the transition to team-based care in clinics will allow family doctors to see more patients.
“We did a rough calculation the other day: if we could have a social worker, a nurse practitioner, a pharmacist and maybe a physiotherapist, we [family doctors at Muller’s clinic] “Maybe each could take five to 10 more families into our practice,” Muller said.
“If you implement this across the province that could be a significant improvement in the care of patients.”
Glenn Murray, a pharmacist and co-owner of Legends Medical Clinic in Warman, says adding nurse practitioners to physician practices can result in longer wait times at his walk-in clinic.
“The walk-ins continue to fill up with orphaned patients — those who had family doctors for years and have now lost them,” Murray said. “We’re talking about thousands of patients in the local area here in Saskatoon.
“It’s overwhelming for the whole system. It’s scary.”
Murray currently has three physicians at the Legends Medical Clinic, but says two may leave soon.
Murray said, “Warman doesn’t have any doctors other than our clinic.” The recruitment is done exclusively and by us alone.”
Murray says he has asked the provincial government to reimburse him for the clinic’s recruiting efforts, but has not received a response.
Mueller believes the shift to team-based care could result in fewer family doctors leaving the province.
“It would be beneficial if we could reduce the excessive stress experienced by current practicing family physicians, making them more likely to stay,” Muller said.
Retaining nurses is important: union president
Tracey Zambori, president of the nurses union of Saskatchewan, says the provincial government should focus on retaining the province’s nurses
“There is no tertiary facility, regional facility or municipality that has not been deeply affected by the nursing crisis in this province,” Zambori said. “If we don’t hire late- to mid-career nurses, it won’t matter how many nurses we bring in.”
Jamboree says experienced nurses are important for instilling confidence in new nurses so they will stay in the field.
“They’re saying ‘I didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t sign up for having no leadership, feeling the way I’m being treated, putting my career on the line. I can’t provide safe care,'” Zambori said.
Zambori says the province’s nursing shortage is causing long surgical wait times, busy emergency rooms and affecting medical outcomes for patients.
She says she wants some of the federal money to be used to create a provincial nursing task force that would focus on keeping nurses in Saskatchewan.
“If we don’t have enough registered nurses to actually provide care, there’s no possible way we’re going to be able to improve anything because there just aren’t enough staff to do that,” Zambori said.
Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman said Wednesday that part of the $61 million will go towards additional places at nursing schools.
Where is the rest of the money going?
Health Canada says the $61 million immediate investment “will meet urgent needs, particularly in pediatric hospitals and emergency rooms, and long wait times for surgery.”
Merriman described the agreement as “a positive step that will accelerate and enhance the work already underway.”
“Saskatchewan continues to make record investments in the health care system to address key priorities such as reducing surgical backlogs and wait times and increasing access to mental health services,” Merriman told reporters Wednesday.
Merriman said in addition to a one-time $61 million funding injection, the federal government has set aid targets for the province to reach specific areas such as mental health and addictions, primary care and seniors’ care.