NPAO’s Response to CBC Article

NPAO would like to see the needs of patients managed, and health care delivered, within the Ontario Public Health Care system. Unfortunately, in today’s environment that is not occuring for over 1.3 million patients that do not have a primary care provider in Ontario, and that number is growing.  Even those that do may be faced with untenable wait times to access their primary care provider.  So what do patients do?

For several years, NPAO has been calling on the Government of Ontario for funding for NPs to help address the challenges faced by Ontario’s health care system.  There have been opportunities for NPs to contribute cost- effective, health care services that fill gaps in the health care system.  However, the lack of funding mechanisms available for NPs have resulted in missed opportunities for the Ministry of Health to address the gaps in healthcare delivery.  The promise that NPs represent to the health care system and patient care is not being realized.

NPs have one funding model available and that is as a salaried employee funded by the Ministry of Health.  NPs are not allowed to bill OHIP, despite delivering the same care that is billed daily by physicians.  Even in clinics where NPs work with physicians, the physicians are not allowed to bill OHIP for services provided by NPs.  The lack of flexible funding models for NPs presents a significant barrier for clinics to hire more NPs.  

The challenges of access to a primary care provider in Ontario is frustrating for all.  Ontarians will do what they must to obtain the care they need.  That could mean attending an ER (with wait times of 4-8 hours) to obtain care that should be delivered in a primary care setting or pay to obtain the care they need.  If the Government does not address the gaps in our health care system, patients will determine how they obtain the health care they need.  

The Ontario Ministry of Health is the primary funder for NP positions in Ontario. We have pleaded with the Government for new funding models for NPs to help address the needs of patients.  There are many opportunities for NPs to fill the gaps, laid bare by the Physician shortage, to help deliver health care to patients without a primary care provider.  NPs are available and ready to help.  If the Government doesn’t utilize them to their potential, patients will find a way to do so.

This does not have to be the case. Providing more funding models for NPs to fill the gaps is a solution that can have an impact on our current and future challenges.

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