Staff shortages leading to rural health care crisis: SARM

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) has issued a stark warning, declaring a healthcare crisis in rural areas of the province due to severe staff shortages.

SARM has emphasized the urgent need for the provincial government to address this crisis by implementing strategic measures, including reinstating the Grow Your Own Nurse Practitioner Program.

According to SARM, rural communities are grappling with ongoing challenges in providing consistent nursing services and emergency room care. The association suggests that utilizing qualified Nurse Practitioners (NPs) could be a crucial solution to bridge the healthcare gap in these areas. However, they highlight a concerning fact: despite having 328 trained NPs in Saskatchewan as of April 2023, 10 per cent of them are unemployed and still working as registered nurses.

Johanne Rust, Nurse Practitioner and President of the Saskatchewan Association of Nurse Practitioners (SANP), stressed in a news release the importance of reinstating the Grow Your Own Nurse Practitioner Program, initially introduced by the government in 2014. Rust warned that without immediate action, Saskatchewan could lose these valuable healthcare professionals to other provinces offering more attractive job opportunities and wages for NPs.

The call for government intervention comes at a time when rural healthcare faces critical shortages, impacting the well-being of communities. Ray Orb, President of SARM, underlines the necessity of more positions for underutilized NPs and proposes the reinstatement of the 2014 Rural and Remote Nurse Practitioner Recruitment Strategy. Additionally, incentives such as contributions towards relocation expenses and potential bonuses for hard-to-fill positions are suggested to make working in rural Saskatchewan more appealing for NPs.

SARM plans to continue advocating for these changes during the bear pit session on March 14th, providing a platform to address these pressing healthcare issues with Members of the Legislative Assembly. As the healthcare crisis in rural Saskatchewan intensifies, the need for comprehensive and immediate action becomes increasingly evident.

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