Nurse practitioners who have their own private clinics won’t be able to bill the government for patient visits any time soon, and the association that represents them says that hurts people who need care at a time when there’s a shortage of health-care providers.
Right now, private-practice nurse practitioners have to charge patients out of pocket, and some of them have said what’s needed is a way to have the cost covered by the Newfoundland and Labrador government.
But the province’s health minister, Tom Osborne, says the provincial government is not considering direct billing to the public health-care system for nurse practitioner visits.
“We aren’t looking at that at this particular time,” said Osborne. “The nurse practitioners in this province will be part of the public system.”
That’s bad news for nurse practitioners such as Lacey Sparkes and Travis Sheppard. The two nurse practitioners have been in private practice together since February 2022 at the Nurse Practitioner Health and Wellness Clinic in Corner Brook.
“What we’ve been asking for is, we just want a way to practise autonomously where we can provide our services without a fee to the patient. We want to provide a publicly funded service,” said Sparkes.
Sheppard said their clinic had a huge influx of patients when it opened, as so many people without family physicians were glad to be able to get care and to avoid emergency room visits. With the presence of the private nurse practitioner clinic obviously alleviating pressure on the local emergency room, he said, it’s hard to understand why the government doesn’t see value in covering the cost of patient visits.
“I’m surprised that we’re not further ahead than