There are more nurses per capita in the region that includes Sarnia-Lambton than there were five years ago, according to a national study.
Data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows there were 890 nurses working for every 100,000 people in direct care in the Erie-St. Clair region — including Lambton, Kent and Essex counties — in 2011.
That's up 7.9% from 2007 and is similar to the national trend.
The same recently-released study — Regulated Nurses: Canadian Trends, 2007 to 2011 — shows an 8% increase in the number of nurses for every 100,000 people across Canada.
Locally, the population in Erie-St. Clair also fell 1%, to 440,761 between 2007 and 2011, said Andrea Porter Chapman, a team lead with CIHI.
“We have seen a lot of changes in health care delivery in the province of Ontario, such as the integration of nurse practitioner-led clinics,” she said.
“There could be a number of things at play with the change in the number of nurses in the region.”
The population's health needs and how the system is organized can make differences in the data, she said.
The study also revealed the number of nurses in Canada is growing twice as fast as the population, that there are more young nurses, more nurses working beyond the age of 60, and more than 60% of new graduates are working full-time within five years of graduating.
“That in itself is a good news story,” Porter-Chapman said.
A recent Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) news release suggests the number of nurses is lower in Ontario than the Canadian average.
The College of Nurses of Ontario reports 844 registered nursing positions were cut in Ontario between 2011 and 2012, and that Ontario needs to hire more than 15,000 nurses to be on par with the Canadian average.
“The RN to population ratio is key to safe patient care because historically, registered nurses are the professionals who are there on the front lines for patients 24/7, said ONA president Linda Haslam-Stroud.
NURSES IN ERIE-ST. CLAIR PER 100,000 POPULATION (CIHI):