Dear: [Elected Official Name],
As my elected Member of Legislative Assembly, I would like to draw your attention to an urgent issue affecting all Albertans and ask for your thoughtful reflection and timely action. I am an Albertan and I say business as usual in healthcare is not acceptable. Systemic changes are necessary to remain responsive to me, my family, and my community's healthcare needs, all while remaining sustainable. I am disappointed that a proven, sensible, and cost-effective innovation is being overlooked, why? The main barrier for me and my community to access Nurse Practitioner healthcare services is the government’s underwhelming action regarding the creation of a sustainable funding model that would support Nurse Practitioners in acute, primary, and long-term care.
Nurse Practitioners in Alberta provide similar services as their physician colleagues, but there continue to be gaps in care because NPs continue to be underutilized in acute, primary, and long-term care. It is shameful that this innovate change to our healthcare system which could improve access to essential healthcare service is not being utilized or implemented. NPs have over 50 years of positive research demonstrating safe, high quality care, cost efficiency in the healthcare system.
The well respected and non-partisan ‘Naylor Report’ (2015) states, “the cash strapped health authority would rather contract the services of a physician that they do not have to pay for out of their own budget rather than develop Nurse Practitioners…who could do the same role for fewer tax-payer dollars” (p.88). The Province of Alberta has an opportunity to show leadership and be great stewards of healthcare resources by immediately creating a funding model to allow for team-based healthcare services that include NPs to achieve equal outcomes, better value, and demonstrate fiscal responsibility with taxpayer dollars.
I am not the only one who thinks this:
The Alberta Chambers of Commerce, which represents the business community, has realized that it makes economic sense to have NPs provide healthcare as a community's health is linked to its economic success.
The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), which represents roughly 80% of Alberta’s population, has also called for the creation of a funding model that includes NPs so as to fill gaps in care
More recently, the NPAA has been working with the Alberta Association of Municipalities and Districts (AAMDC), which represents rural Albertans, as their thoughts regarding timely access to healthcare close to home do align and they have showed great enthusiasm for the NP plight
In March 2017, the Competition Bureau of Canada stated in a publication that “Billing may also be an issue, as independent nurse practitioners are generally not permitted to bill the province or territory for their services. This means that even though these practices can provide high quality care for everyday health issues at a potentially lower cost to health care systems, their success depends on whether a sufficient number of patients are willing and able to pay "out of pocket". This is important as it recognizes the systemic marginalization of NPs and calls on provinces to break a perceived provider monopoly on the delivery of medical services.
The State of Pennsylvania was able to demonstrated a $6.4 billion savings over 10 years by increasing the NP workforce by 13%. Given this, Alberta’s lack of action on the NP file is unacceptable in this time of great fiscal challenge coupled with a rising population.
In Alberta, Nurse Practitioners are provincially regulated autonomous Master’s and PhD prepared healthcare providers with the knowledge, skills and legislated authority necessary to assess, diagnose, prescribe, order and interpret any necessary tests, and refer patients to specialists when necessary. Their scope of practice is outlined in the Alberta Health Professions Act enacted by the Government of Alberta in 1999. Despite their ability to provide complete and comprehensive healthcare in Alberta, many Alberta educated Nurse Practitioners are underemployed or unemployed.
To learn more about Nurse Practitioners visit the Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta website at www.albertanps.com. I also encourage you to contact Eric Lavoie NP, President of the Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.