The Quebec College of Physicians says it’s ready to give nurse practitioners more powers.
On Friday, the college adopted a resolution that would give nurse practitioners the power to treat common illnesses such as otitis, urinary tract infections as well as the following chronic diseases: diabetes, hypertension, asthma, hypothyroidism, high cholesterol and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
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“All those common healthcare problems are very prevalent and the most common in the population,” said Nathalie Saad the president of the Quebec College of Physicians. “I think in terms of getting easier access in healthcare services… we’ve made a big step forward.”
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The decision comes after Quebec health minister Danielle McCann announced she wanted to give more autonomy to Quebec’s nearly 550 nurse practitioners, also nicknamed “super nurses.”
McCann says the goal is to make it easier for Quebecers to have access to healthcare. The move, she says, will provide more access to people because physicians and nurses will no longer duplicate their efforts.
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“As we know right now, some acts were being done by a nurse practitioner and then the patient has to see the doctor again — that’s a duplication,” McCann told Global News. “If it’s a quarter of their time that is spent doing those referrals and duplication, you can do a calculation. We’re going to improve the access for sure.”
McCann said Quebecers will apply the changes in a few months from now.
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“People who are waiting to be seen by those teams, they will get a call and they will be seen by nurse practitioners and physicians. I think after a few months, we will be able to implement the increased access,” McCann explained.
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Quebec’s largest nurses union called the change “major progress for the province,” but say more powers should be granted to their members.
“They should be able to discharge patients from a hospital bed, they should be allowed to work in their full capacity in an emergency department. It would be so helpful for access to care,” said Denyse Joseph, vice-president of the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec.
The health minister also added that discussions will continue between the provincial government and the college of physicians to continue to improve access to health care.
“There are also nurse practitioners in hospitals and what we call ‘specialized services’ and there too could be improvements,” McCann said.
— With files from Global’s Dan Spector