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An internal survey of some doctors questioned the effectiveness of both nurse practitioners and that of the $6.2-million 811 phone service that connects nurses to patients.

The College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia is defending the record of nurse practitioners after an internal physicians’ survey about the 811 service revealed skepticism about the value.

An internal survey of some doctors questioned the effectiveness of both nurse practitioners and that of the $6.2-million 811 phone service that connects nurses to patients.

"Physicians being accessible by phone will be more cost effective than 811 and provide better patient care as the physician has patient history," the survey reported.

"Will save more visits to emergency room and office visits as often recommended by 811."

Donna Denney, with the college, responded saying each year it carries out a quality review of 20 per cent of the provinces 140 nurse practitioners — including interviews with patients and doctors.

“We’ve actually surveyed over 500 physicians in our quality improvement process for the nurse practitioners and have resoundingly positive results indicating that they are pleased with the knowledge and decision making of nurse practitioners,” said Denney.

The nurses union was similarly surprised by the results of the survey.

“They are the opinions of some but I don't believe it is the opinion of the majority of physicians or for that matter Doctors Nova Scotia,” said Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union.

Nova Scotia Minister of Health Leo Glavine has not heard any concerns about nurse practitioners, whom he said are very well received where they work. He called 811 a valuable service that helps many Nova Scotians navigate into the health care system.