09/27/2011 04:05 EDT | Updated 11/27/2011 05:12 EST

Health minister says more doctors, nurses working now in Saskatchewan

SASKATOON - Saskatchewan Health Minister Don McMorris says the province hasn't thrown in the towel when it comes to getting more doctors into rural areas.

But he says the face of health care in those communities is going to have to change.

McMorris says while his department has been busy trying to recruit doctors, they've also been working closely with communities to look at primary health care redesign so that all health-care practitioners are utilized.

He says one change is to bring in nurse practitioners, whose numbers have increased to 125 from 50 five years ago.

McMorris says the province has passed regulations to expand the scope for nurse practitioners and where they are working, communities have fully embraced them.

He also says there are 200 more doctors living in the province, but admits most live in Saskatoon and Regina.

He also says the Saskatchewan Party government has exceeded its election commitment of adding 800 more registered nurses to the health-care system over the past four years.