Nursing Matters

Gov NL Still Failing to Utilize Nurse Practitioners

March 14, 2023

In a news release issued on November 14, the Provincial Government announced the regional health authorities would immediately begin recruitment efforts to increase the number of nurse practitioners, especially in rural areas.

A commitment was also made to introduce a number of nurse practitioner-led clinics under the regional health authorities.

The Registered Nurses’ Union welcomed this news. “For years, we have advocated for government to further utilize NPs and tap into their full scope of practice,” said RNU President Yvette Coffey. “We’ve also pushed for NPs to operate clinics under the public system in response to the critical shortage of primary health care providers throughout the province.”

Annual polling conducted by MQO Research shows residents of Newfoundland and Labrador strongly agree with this solution. In a survey conducted during the summer of 2022, 83% of the public indicated they would support the introduction of publicly funded NP-led clinics.

Increasing the number of nurse practitioners within the health care system is a strategy to address challenges in accessing primary care, particularly in more rural and remote areas. The addition of more nurse practitioners will also help alleviate pressure on the province’s emergency departments and improve care in all sectors of health care.

Despite making this long overdue commitment in November, RNU is unaware that any actions have been taken to increase the number of nurse practitioners in the health care system, as well as introduce nurse practitioner-led clinics.

“Our health care system continues to be under enormous strain,” said Yvette Coffey, President of RNU. “The lack of primary care providers is having a significant impact on all aspects of our health care system, particularly emergency rooms.”

“The improvements nurse practitioners could make in the delivery of primary care and across the health care system are significant,” said Coffey. “Government’s lack of action to better utilize this critical health care provider and recruit more NPs is unacceptable, and will negatively impact the implementation of Health Accord recommendations around collaborative team clinics and improvements in long-term care.”

While RNU continues its advocacy work with government officials, we are planning further media efforts and will be calling on government for failing to act.

Addressing NP concerns at the bargaining table is also a key priority for your union. This includes improving wages and measures to improve working conditions such as mentorship opportunities.