VANCOUVER B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau today called on Health Minister Adrian Dix to prioritize investment in community health centres as a way to provide better patient-centred care, support healthcare professionals, and ease the impact of the family doctor shortage.
“We are in a crisis of healthcare that could have been avoided but does not have to get worse,” Furstenau said. “I am pleased that family doctors will now see the financial support they need to continue providing primary care with the new longitudinal family physician payment plan."
At the same time, it does not address the many other issues that primary care faces: a model that burdens family doctors with running a small business - their practices, a siloed approach to the continuum of care, and ineffective use of other healthcare professions like nurse practitioners. B.C. desperately needs to transition to a focus on community health centres (CHCs).
CHCs bring family physicians together with nurse practitioners who have a similar scope of practice, along with specialists such as psychologists and pharmacists in one place. The government provides the administrative infrastructure, such as physical locations, and administrative and financial support, to keep the centres open and allow healthcare professionals to focus on patient care.
“In the team-based environment of community health centres, more patients can be seen by more primary care providers, who have more time to spend with their patients. Physicians’ assistants can be employed to support doctors and nurse practitioners. Specialists work closely with primary care physicians, collaborating on patients’ continuum of care.
“Our province has enough family doctors to provide care for British Columbians. The problem is how we employ them in primary care, and how we do not employ other healthcare professionals in primary care. We have the tools to ease, and eventually eliminate the impact of the family doctor shortage, which is really a problem with the ineffective administration of primary care in this province. The only thing we are missing is active, deliberate government support for making this transition.”
“Community health centres, where doctors work as part of a team of health professionals to meet the needs of people, would improve healthcare delivery in B.C., as they have done elsewhere,” Deputy leader Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi added. “If we are to truly revolutionize our system of health care in BC, we need bold solutions, major surgery, not stop-gap Band-Aid solutions. That’s what British Columbians want and that’s what they deserve.”
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