Nurses and the Primary Care Model

The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) advocates for a primary health care model wherein patients can gain access to primary health care twenty-four hours a day. In the early 1990s, a number of pilot projects were set up, the first of which was at Beechy, Saskatchewan, in an attempt to facilitate primary care teams. These teams would consist of any number of health care providers; physicians, registered nurses and nurse practitioners working together to ensure that a patient gets the most appropriate care by the most appropriate professional.

The first project at Beechy saw much involvement by SUN. SUN had to negotiate job descriptions and rates of pay for the nurse practitioner who would be working in the facility. The model remains in the community and has expanded to other communities near Beechy.

In recommendations to the 2001 Caring for Medicare Report prepared by Ken Fyke, SUN continued to advocate for a reformed primary care model. A 2000 edition of SUNSPOTS Spots , SUN's member magazine, outlines the major recommendations that SUN made to the Fyke report. These clearly underscore SUN's commitment to creating a primary care model in Saskatchewan:

  • Implement province-wide primary care reform to provide citizens with 24-hour access to primary health care services
  • A provincial network of community health centres employing multi-disciplinary teams, and a special program for nurses which combines education and experience in primary care settings. This would attract nurses from other provinces.
  • Pushing out fee-for-service and capitation in favour of a salaried model for Saskatchewan physicians.
  • Expand medicare to fully fund primary health services, emergency services and home care, followed by long-term care, pharmaceuticals and expansion of the dental plan.
  • Phase out private for-profit ownership of health delivery services that receive public funding.
  • Create an effective health human resources plan to ensure an adequate supply of all health providers, particularly nurses and physicians, and the creation of healthy work environments.
  • Invest in a healthy society with policies to reduce poverty and unemployment, increase opportunities for education, social housing, paid maternity leave, family income support, increased minimum wages, early childhood support and development, environmental protection, occupational health and safety, food safety, health promotion and education.
  • Establish population health targets such as reducing premature births and infant mortality, chronic diseases and preventable accidents. Provide early screening, prevention, and treatment of major chronic and preventable diseases such as diabetes, health disease and lung cancer.
  • Reinforce national funding, standards, and appropriate trade policy to prevent expansion of for-profit health care.