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Six nurse practitioners to be added to health-care system to reduce wait times

(FREDERICTON - GNB) February 28, 2018 - Six nurse practitioners will be added to the provincial health-care system to help ensure more New Brunswickers have access to a primary care professional and to support reduced wait times.

"We want to improve quality health care at the community level," said Health Minister Benoît Bourque. "Nurse practitioners play a very important role in the provision of primary health care, and increasing their presence in the province will increase access and ensure a better continuity of care."

The nurse practitioners will be distributed based on priorities identified by the Department of Health and regional health authorities, as well as data from Patient Connect NB, which is a provincially managed, bilingual patient registry for people looking for a new primary health-care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner).

"Nurse practitioners provide high-quality health-care services to an increasing proportion of the population," said Bourque. "We want to continue to leverage health-care providers such as nurse practitioners to help address some of the health-care challenges facing our province."

The Department of Health will also establish a nurse practitioner locum program. It will allow nurse practitioners to replace family physicians who are temporarily absent from their practice, ensuring continued care for their patients.

"We are thrilled with today's announcement that recognizes the government's commitment to primary health care," said Karen Frenette, president of the Nurses Association of New Brunswick. "Not only are we providing opportunities to nurse practitioners seeking employment and eliminating existing barriers allowing them to fulfil physician vacancies, we should expect a significant decrease of the 20,000 New Brunswickers on the Patient Connect NB registry currently waiting for a health provider."

The additional positions will increase the number of nurse practitioners working in New Brunswick to about 120.

"By integrating nurse practitioners to our health-care team, we significantly improve the quality of patient care while promoting a culture of excellence, as mentioned in our Strategic Plan 2017-2020," said Gilles Lanteigne, president and CEO of Vitalité Health Network. "I am pleased with this announcement, and I am confident that all the staff at the Vitalité Health Network share my enthusiasm."

"Horizon is pleased that more nurse practitioners will soon be part of our health-care system," said Jean Daigle, vice-president community at Horizon Health Network. "Nurse practitioners provide access to quality primary care and are an asset for our patients and the province."

Nurse practitioners began practising in the province in 2003. They are trained to diagnose and treat common acute health problems, monitor and manage chronic diseases, and prescribe diagnostic testing, medications and other treatments.

In 2016, the government amended legislation to give nurse practitioners greater authority in the health-care system, allowing them to admit patients to the New Brunswick Extra-Mural Program and to record the cause of death on death certificates.

Media Contact(s)
Bruce Macfarlane, communications, Department of Health, 506-444-4583.    

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