Nurses press to end hallway health care during visit to Queen's Park

Feb. 20, 2019

The Ontario government has set its sights on streamlining and improving health care and the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) has created a road map to get there. It starts, nurses say, with a renewed focus on primary care, a change that will prevent and better manage disease in the community and reduce a logjam in hospitals that strands patients in hallways.

Interprofessional primary care clinics deliver great care at lower cost. Primary care can also enrich the patient experience by ensuring care is seamlessly co-ordinated. This can happen as soon as the government delivers a promise not met by the previous government: to locate in primary care the 4,500 registered nurses (RN) who now work as care co-ordinators for the local health integration networks (LHIN). RN care co-ordinators located in primary care will also help Ontarians better navigate the health system.

Hallway health care will also be reduced if Ontario requires hospitals to post and fill more than 10,000 RN vacancies and designate nurse practitioners (NP) to take the lead as most responsible provider in more cases.

Patients will get more timely access to care if the government removes legal and practice environment barriers that impede NPs from doing bedside tests and ordering scans and other diagnostic tests. And to reduce the rate of hospital re-admission, Ontario should designate RNs to conduct all first home care assessments. 

All these changes will speed up access, improve outcomes, and lower costs. RNAO solutions will make health care more efficient, co-ordinated and timely.

"Robust primary care is a hallmark of any high functioning health system, and Ontario lags behind," says Angela Cooper Brathwaite, president of RNAO.

"If we invest in smart ways in primary care, we can reduce suffering, unclog our hospitals and make better use of taxpayer dollars," says RNAO Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun.

That's the message 150 RNs, NPs, and nursing students will deliver when they visit the Ontario legislature Thursday, Feb. 21 to participate in Queen's Park Day, the 19th year for the annual event. They will meet with more than 60 members of provincial parliament (MPP) from all parties – including Ontario's health minister, opposition leaders and health critics.

Those encounters are critical. "We must improve health care and there is no better place to start than with nurses who are on the frontlines every day," Cooper Brathwaite says.

Who: RNAO President Angela Cooper Brathwaite, Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun, and 150 RNs, NPs and nursing student leaders.

More than 60 MPPs at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. breakfast meetings and afternoon session.

Speeches and Q & A from:
Christine Elliott, minister of health, at 1 p.m.
Andrea Horwath, NDP party leader at 1:25 p.m.
John Fraser, Liberal party leader, at 1:50 p.m.
Mike Schreiner, Green party leader, at 2:35 p.m.

What: RNAO's 19th Queen's Park Day

When: Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019

Where: Queen Park, Legislative Dining Room  (breakfast meetings)
7 Hart House Circle, Toronto   (afternoon session)

Members of the media are welcome to attend.
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario's (RNAO) representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.
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