Saskatchewan's Minister of Health, Dustin Duncan, has given his approval to a move by the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region to consolidate services for sick children in one hospital, with intensive care cases being sent to Saskatoon.

Officials with the region say the move will improve care by ensuring doctors and nurses have enough cases to keep their skills sharp.

The changes will start to happen in January. By the time the moves are done, the Regina General will be the main hospital for most sick children in Southern Saskatchewan.

Children who need intensive care will be sent to Saskatoon.

Duncan said he was satisfied the moves would lead to improved care. He said he was also assured having all children in one location would not increase the risk of infection.

He said he was also comforted by the fact that the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency was OK with the moves.

The Allen Blair Cancer clinic is at the Pasqua Hospital.

"After much deliberation and a lot of hard work by the health region I've come to the position that they've satisfied all the questions that I've had," Duncan said Thursday. "And that's why I'm indicating my support to the region's decision."

The president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses said her members want to be involved in the next steps for the moves.

Tracy Zambory said people with emergencies involving children should get the best possible care, even if Saskatoon is the destination hospital.

"We have to be sure that there are systems in place that a young family that has a pediatric emergency in Oxbow, Saskatchewan are going to have a seamless, safe journey all the way to Saskatoon," Zambory said, noting that Oxbow is in the province's extreme southeast corner, about 500 kilometres from Saskatoon.

With files from CBC's Adam Hunter