Premier Brad Wall announces a 5-point plan for better health care in Saskatchewan

October 17, 2011 On October 18, 2011 Premier Brad Wall announced the Saskatchewan Party's five-point plan for improving patient access to health care in rural and northern Saskatchewan.1. Forgive student loans for new doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners who work in underserved rural and northern communities.If re-elected, a Saskatchewan Party government will forgive up to $120,000 of student loans for new physicians and up to $20,000 of student loans for new nurses and nurse practitioners who chose to work in underserved rural and northern communities.This initiative is designed to attract health professionals to communities of under 10,000 people that are having trouble attracting doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners. The government will work with local communities and regional health authorities to implement the new program and will consider expanding the incentive to include larger centres with vacancies that are proving hard to fill.2. Increase the number of nurse practitioner training seats from 30 to 50.20 new training seats will be created to train nurse practitioners and the government will work to expand their scope of practice to keep more hospital facilities open in rural communities.3. Create a 20 doctor rural locum pool.If re-elected, a Saskatchewan Party government will work with the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) and the Physician Recruitment Agency to build a rural locum pool of 20 new doctors. These doctors will provide relief for rural physicians for extended periods (up to a number of months if required) in addition to the current locum pool which focuses on short relief periods.4. Expand pilot projects currently providing emergency services in rural areas.A pilot project in south-west Saskatchewan is currently providing Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) coverage seven days a week to residents of Eastend and area. The government will expand this pilot project to increase the use of EMTs and mobile health service personnel in health facilities and the community while ensuring EMT compensation is competitive across the province.5. Launch the STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) emergency medical helicopter program.As previously announced, a Saskatchewan Party government is committed to bringing the successful STARS emergency helicopter service to Saskatchewan. Work is already underway with service scheduled to begin in 2012.Premier Wall said his government is committed to improving medical services in all parts of Saskatchewan.\We recognize this is a major challenge