Sudbury letter: Cuts hurting health care
On behalf of the thousands of previously orphaned patients now accessing primary health care through the Sudbury District Nurse Practitioner Clinics, I am writing this letter in response to the recent news regarding cuts made by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) in this province.
We are aware that there has been a lot of talk about wages since the articles first started, but I think it is important to focus on how the government's choices are affecting all workers in the health-care sector.
In 2010, Ontario introduced the Excellent Care for All Act with the principle to place patients first by strengthening the health-care system's organizational focus and accountability for delivering high quality patient care. While primary care organizations are being held accountable to high standards for delivery of patient care as we should be, we are seeing that the system's organizational focus has not been strengthened. Recruitment and retention issues have been at the forefront of primary care organizations for years, and while Premier Kathleen Wynne has promised in writing to address these issues in her election platform, we have yet to see any resolution to the issue.
As with most NP-led clinics, we are seeing high turnover rates (with a 20 per cent vacancy rate for nurse practitioners) resulting in poor continuity of care and frustrated patients having to give their history to multiple providers.
These high turnovers are also causing increased medical legal risk for organizations and patients with the staff who absorb patients left behind by a provider having an increased workload, which could run the risk of results not being followed up on in a timely manner.
Did you know that there are still more than 900,000 "orphaned" patients in Ontario? Without a primary care provider, they must access care through walk-in clinics and local ERs, which lead to increased wait times. Doesn't every Ontarian have the right to a provider who knows their history, can be an advocate for their health, and help them navigate the health care systems when they are ill? How can we accomplish this when we can't attract the health care professionals our patients deserve to our organizations?
Recent ministry communications indicate major system change is imminent in primary care. It is time the government steps up and addresses all these issues to ensure the proper structures are in place to facilitate this change.
Jennifer Clement, RN(EC); Clinic director, Sudbury District Nurse Practitioner Clinics
Originally published in The Sudbury Star