Nursing Matters

Health Accord NL Releases Final Report

March 22, 2022

Health Accord NL released its final report to the provincial government on February 17.

The report includes 57 calls to action. Health Accord NL is recommending the provincial government implement the plan over the next five years with continuous evaluation along the way. An implementation plan will be presented this month.

Health Accord NL Chairs Sister Elizabeth Davis and Dr. Pat Parfrey, together with members of the Task Force, strategy committees and working groups, used evidence and engagement to create its plan for improved health and health outcomes for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

RNU and our members were active participants in this process. It was vital for the voices of registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) to be heard.

You know the system is broken and must be fixed.

RNU participated at the Health Accord NL table because the way we are doing things now is not working.

If we do not act, our health will get worse. Patients and health care providers will suffer further.

Health Accord has set forth a plan to improve the social, economic and environmental conditions affecting our health and provide better, timelier access to health care.

This is our best chance to get things right.

RNU President Yvette Coffey served as a Health Accord NL Task Force member. RNU Region 6 Representative Nancy Healey-Dove was a member of the Aging Population Committee. RNU Research and Education Specialist Leah Healey was a member of the Education Working Group. Past President Debbie Forward served on the Workforce Readiness Working Group.

As well, RNU facilitated several feedback opportunities for our members including town halls and focus groups.

RNU and our members brought many perspectives and priorities to the table, which we outlined in many discussions, presentations, and a focus group report. We championed the vital role of RNs and NPs in a reimagined system and advocated for your best interests.

Throughout the entire engagement process for Health Accord NL, your union made it loud and clear that transformation of health care will not be possible until health human resource challenges are addressed.

We will never have a functioning health care system if we continue to rely on overtime and understaffing.

This message was heard by Health Accord NL. Specific calls to action regarding health workforce planning are included in the report. We are urgently calling on the provincial government to implement these measures to create safe working conditions, and address the recruitment and retention of RNs, NPs and other health care providers.

While RNU agrees with the guiding principles and much of the Health Accord NL report, we do not support the report in its entirety.

We made this clear in a letter to Premier Furey and Minister Haggie.

We believe many of the changes proposed by Health Accord NL will have a positive impact for patients and health care professionals provided these changes are implemented at the right time and in the right way.

Aligned with Health Accord NL, we support:

  • Focusing on the social determinants of health and improving the social, economic, and environmental conditions that affect our health;
  • Providing better, more timely access to health care;
  • Developing a more integrated, technologically enhanced, sustainable health system;
  • Placing an increased focus on child and elder care;
  • All providers working to their full scope of practice;
  • Tapping into the full potential of nurse practitioners; and
  • Improving access to primary health care.

As outlined above, while RNU supports many of the report’s recommendations, there are uncertainties related to the implementation of Health Accord NL.

We cannot afford to drive health care providers away from the system. RNs and other providers are already considering leaving the profession or planning to retire early. Stabilizing health human resources is vital. This lens must be used when decisions are being made regarding service delivery changes in communities. And we’ve made this clear to government.

RNU will advocate for a fair transition for our members who may be affected as plans are implemented.

We call on government to continuously evaluate and adjust implementation plans based on the feedback of providers and communities.

To affect transformational change, proper governance and implementation is critical. RNs and other providers will need to be properly supported as Health Accord NL changes are rolled out. Ongoing education and investment in change management is vital.

A piecemeal or one size fits all approach to implementing change will not be effective.

We’re calling for ongoing monitoring and careful review well beyond the implementation stage to ensure Health Accord NL changes have the intended outcomes throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

Your union will remain vigilant as the Health Accord NL Blue Print is released and recommendations are implemented. We will continue to advocate on behalf of our members. 

We must take action now to improve the health of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

The cost of doing nothing will be far greater.

Transformation will not come easy. Implementation of Health Accord NL will lead to an enormous shift in the delivery of health care in Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is our hope Health Accord NL will result in positive outcomes for patients and the hardworking, dedicated professionals working throughout our health care system.