Skip to main content


Back to all news

NL Health Services Announces Plans to Reduce Use of Private Health-Care Staff

News ReleasesProvincial
Posted: May 2, 2024

Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) Health Services outlined plans to reduce the number of private health-care staff (agency nurses) used within the organization to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels by April 2026. Actions to date, including recruitment and retention efforts, have resulted in a 11.4 per cent reduction in the number of private health-care staff since February 2024 and will be reduced to 30 per cent by December 2024. 

“Our approach will ensure that NL Health Services will continue to provide quality health care in a way that is sustainable,” said David Diamond, CEO, NL Health Services. “It is important that we are able to provide health-care services at current levels in all zones while we work towards retaining the nurses we currently have and recruiting more nurses within and to our province. By gradually phasing out the use of private health-care staff to traditional levels, we will ensure we are able to continue to offer our current level of service as we bring on more services.” 

Given ongoing staffing challenges and to maintain workplace staffing levels, NL Health Services has engaged private health-care staffing agencies to provide support to fill vacant positions, temporarily, on an as-needed basis all over the province. These health-care workers are used as a short-term measure to fill vacancies, help relieve some pressure on existing staff within the health-care system, and ensure that the health authority is able to continue to deliver quality, safe care for patients and residents. Private health-care workers are used all over North America and have been for many years. 

Currently, there are approximately 340 private health-care staff throughout all zones in areas such as long-term care, emergency departments, acute care, obstetrics and intensive care units. The goal is to reduce the number of private health-care staff to approximately 60 by April 2026. This number reflects the ongoing need to fill hard-to-fill and remote positions. NL Health Services’ approach to reduce the number of private health-care staff includes: 

  • Hiring the maximum number of nursing graduates in the province;  
  • Encouraging casual nurses to take full-time employment; 
  • Reducing barriers to nurses to work more full-time hours including providing accessible childcare; 
  • Developing a “grow your own” strategy to encourage career development for current employees; 
  • Retaining current employees through promotion of workplace safety and employee wellness initiatives; 
  • Establishing the “Come Home” and other incentives for return in service agreements; 
  • Working with union partners to provide opportunities for current nurses to assist in challenging areas such as locums for parts of Labrador;  
  • Continuing international recruitment efforts; 
  • Reviewing more cost-effective contractual options; and 
  • Developing guidelines that ensure consistent use of private health-care staff. 

“Initiatives to attract internationally trained nurses to enter the province and begin work as personal care attendants has had great success,” said Mr. Diamond. “International recruitment remains active with missions started in various countries. We are pleased that 156 internationally educated nurses are now licenced as RNs or LPNs and are currently living and working in the province.”  

This complements the over 300 recent nursing graduates from local nursing schools who have been hired and are starting work with NL Health Services primarily the week of April 29 and in May. Specifically, 93 per cent of Bachelor of Nursing graduates accepted full-time employment with NL Health Services and 150 practical nurse graduates have been offered and accepted employment.   

“Reducing the number of private health-care staff is complex and will take careful and considerate planning so that we do not affect our service levels,” said Debbie Molloy, Vice-President of Human Resources, NL Health Services. “It should be noted that numbers will fluctuate up and down as new services and facilities are brought into operation. The establishment of family care teams throughout the zones, the new Western Memorial Regional Hospital and the new Mental Health and Addictions Centre as well as other services and initiatives require staff and could impact these fluctuations. I thank all our incredible and dedicated health-care professionals who provide the best possible care to everyone we serve.” 

As a result of ongoing activities, NL Heath Services is starting to see positive results from its recruitment and retention efforts. NL Health Services is a desirable place to work and staff members are part of interdisciplinary teams, have access to state-of-the-art equipment and modern facilities. NL Health Services is committed to supporting its people and teams by providing collaborative, safe, respectful, inclusive, supportive work environments and respecting and encouraging work-life balance. For more information on working with NL Health Services, please visit 


About NL Health Services 

Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services (NL Health Services) brings together five former separate health entities – Eastern Health, Central Health, Western Health, Labrador-Grenfell Health, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information. The creation of a provincial health authority was announced following recommendations from Health Accord NL.    

NL Health Services is responsible for delivering health and community services to more than 528,000 people living in Newfoundland and Labrador and employs over 22,000 people. 

Back to all news