PEI·Exclusive

No dedicated patients for nurse practitioners

Nurse practitioners will not be dealing with patient lists of their own any time soon.

Nurse practitioners will not be dealing with patient lists of their own any time soon.

Nurse practitioners will still get Islanders wating for family doctors off the patient registry, says Marilyn Barrett, director of primary care for Health PEI. (CBC)

A pilot project launched in 2012 has flagged concerns that Health PEI says need to be addressed first. In particular, regulations need to be put in place so nurse practitioners can prescribe narcotics.

Health PEI`s director of primary care, Marilyn Barrett, told CBC News nurse practitioners will be used as they have been, to enhance family doctor practices.

"We've decided that, what we'll do is add the nurse practitioners to practices and increase the total number of patients that the practice has, and the NP work in collaboration with the physician," said Barrett.

A nurse practitioner has been working with her own patient list at the Parkdale Medical Clinic in Charlottetown under the pilot project. The plan was to allow three more nurse practitioners to work under a similar model around the province if the project worked out. Health PEI estimated each nurse practitioner would be able take up to 800 people off the waiting list for a family doctor.

But Barrett said under current regulations 30 per cent of a patient's needs have to be met by a family doctor, and that created stumbling blocks.

A law allowing nurse practitioners in Nova Scotia to prescribe narcotics came into effect Saturday. Health PEI says it will revisit the nurse practitioner pilot project once P.E.I. passes similar legislation. It's estimated that could take up to a year.

Barrett believes reverting to the old model will still get the same number of Islanders off the doctor waiting list, because there are now 11 nurse practitioners working at health centres in the province, compared to just four in 2012.

"I think we can achieve the same results, just through a different model," she said.

Barrett estimates 6,000 people are currently on the patient registry, waiting as long as two years to get a family doctor.

The nurse practitioner at Parkdale Medical Clinic will continue to manage her 500 patients, but no new patients will be added to her practice. 

Clarifications

  • The provincial health department says nurse practitioners already have the ability to prescribe narcotics under P.E.I. legislation and regulation. All that's required to implement this practice is education and training, which is currently being arranged by the Association of Registered Nurses of Prince Edward Island.
    Nov 06, 2014 3:11 PM AT

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