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NEWS RELEASE · 25th June 2010
BC NDP Caucus
The B.C. Liberals are bungling the opportunity to reduce hospital admissions and health care costs by failing to hire Nurse Practitioners who can provide primary medical care right now to thousands of people across the province, the B.C. New Democrats say.

“Places like Ontario have established Nurse Practitioner community clinics that are successfully meeting the twin challenges of ensuring residents receive primary medical care and curbing costs. But the B.C. Liberals are wasting the opportunity to have Nurse Practitioners provide key medical care to the tens of thousands of British Columbians, including people in rural and remote areas, who do not have a primary care provider like a family doctor," said New Democrat health critic Adrian Dix.

After graduating from intensive programs at UBC, UVic, and UNBC, NPs can diagnose, treat, prescribe medications and make referrals to specialists. As a result, they are professionally qualified to deliver basic medical care to tens of thousands of British Columbians who are without a family doctor.

Representatives from the British Columbia Nurse Practitioners Association report that the current pool of unemployed NPs could deliver 316,800 primary medical care visits annually.

According to Statistics Canada, over a quarter of a million British Columbians lack a primary care provider, a situation that results in more hospital admissions and higher health care costs. Studies have shown that individuals with chronic conditions require fewer hospital stays when they receive basic medical care on a consistent basis.

Dix was joined by NP Janet Baillies and by patients advocating for NPs to become permanent fixtures in B.C.’s health care system.

“The B.C. Liberal government has featured Janet as an example of how Nurse Practitioners enhance health care. But, ironically, she is now unemployed, because the same government did not follow up on developing a plan to fully integrate Nurse Practitioners into the primary care system,” said Dix.

Baillies had been working at Clearbrook Family Practice Clinic in Abbotsford, but in April the government’s regional health authority cut funding for her position.

Prior to laying her off, the Ministry of Health had featured Baillies as an example of how the government was using Nurse Practitioners to improve patient outcomes and make the health care system more cost efficient.

“In their PR materials, the B.C. Liberals say that nurse practitioners like Janet help people with chronic diseases remain at optimum health and free up family physicians to focus on more complicated cases. But when it comes to following those words up with action, the B.C. Liberals fall short,” said Dix.

Dix noted that, in sharp contrast, Ontario is capitalizing on NPs.

“Ontario has opened NP-led clinics with great success, and is planning for more. To staff them, they are aggressively recruiting graduates from B.C.,” said Dix.

The Carole James New Democrats are committed to enhancing public services and supporting the health and quality of life of B.C. families.