NDP health critics stop in Battlefords on ‘Solutions Tour’

“They [BRT6HC] do such an excellent job serving people here in North Battleford. They have a lot of expertise in that building that hasn’t been listened to,” Love said. “We’re also hearing common themes of a lack of access to primary care, [and] challenges with [recruiting] staffing.

Love said as a result of their visit to the Battlefords, they estimate the community is about 17 family doctors short overall.

At the BDCC, Love said, they took a tour and spoke with some of the staff. They heard that staffing levels have basically stayed the same over the years, but the needs of residents have been increasing significantly, as people often stay at home longer and come into long-term care with higher levels of acuity, and acute care needs.

Love said the opposition team plans to continue to make recommendations and call on the provincial government to address Saskatchewan communities’ healthcare needs. They are also asking for the government to re-establish community health advisory networks in the province.

Mowat said more work needs to be done to keep healthcare professionals in Saskatchewan.

“There is such a focus on the government’s healthcare recruitment plan on recruiting, but there isn’t that focus in retention,” she said.

Mowat said evidence shows there remains a great need to bring and keep doctors in Saskatchewan.

“The proof is in the pudding, in terms of how many people we see leaving the province right now,” she said. “The number for last year was that we had fewer doctors than we had the year before. It’s about 61 fewer doctors actually. So, it’s about tracking those doctors, and making sure that we have the ability for people to access primary care because right now we don’t.”

Mowat added even with the province’s recruitment plans, Saskatchewan will still be about 1,000 healthcare workers short overall.

When reached by battlefordsNOW, Battlefords MLA Jeremy Cockrill said in response to the NDP critics’ concerns that more work is being done to bring healthcare professionals to the area.

“I understand that the NDP are out traveling around on a so-called Solutions Tour,” he said.” It’s one thing to talk about solutions. It’s a totally other thing to actually have solutions.”

He said the province has a number of plans to attract more doctors and healthcare professionals to Saskatchewan, including the rural areas.

“Probably the most significant piece of policy we have right now to encourage our healthcare system to staff up is the rural and remote recruitment incentives we have,” Cockrill said. “Healthcare professionals from a variety of categories are eligible for up to a $50,000 recruitment incentive. That’s available in numerous communities around the province, including in the Battlefords.”

Cockrill said as a result of this policy, the Battlefords has already seen commitments for 15 new nurses and three new lab staff.

“That’s having a significant impact on healthcare in the Battlefords right away,” he said.

Cockrill said work is also being done to bring more doctors here.

“We’re getting to a more positive spot for physicians in the Battlefords,” he said. “Right now, we’re in the process of recruiting three new physicians to the Battlefords…. If those recruitment efforts go well, I would expect that two of those doctors would be practicing in our community come the summer.”

Cockrill also said the province is adding more saskatchewan-significantly-expanding-opportunities-for-health-care-training”>training seats for Licensed Practical Nurses, Continuing Care Assistants, lab assistants, and other healthcare professions, as well as for registered nurses to increase numbers in the field.

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