Province launches more Primary Health Care Networks

Minister of Health Adrian Dix provided an announcement, Tuesday, regarding improvements to the province's health care services.

The funding will create 22 new "primary care networks" across B.C.

The previous Liberal government promised to link every person to a doctor by 2015 but had to abandon the plan as unachievable even after spending millions-of-dollars to try to court new physicians.

He says about 470 health-care professionals will be hired and existing networks include pharmacists and counsellors providing mental health services for substance users.

He added that "the broader story [is] that we need to work together, and those health professionals will be working together and connecting to each other digitally to give patients the care that they need".

"The best kind of care is longitudinal care, care where your providers know who you are, know your health history, and can help you stay healthy and respond especially to chronic disease", Dix said.

Primary care networks are clinical networks of providers in a geographic area where patients receive expanded, comprehensive care, and improved access to primary care.

"About 17 per cent of people in British Columbia report not having a primary care provider".

"These networks are already benefiting thousands of patients", he said.

The primary care networks will be in Comox, southern Vancouver Island, Cowichan, Oceanside, White Rock/South Surrey, Chilliwack/Fraser rural, Mission, Central Okanagan, Central Interior rural, Kootenay Boundary, East Kootenay and Vancouver.

Indigenous partners, including community leaders, have been involved in the development of primary care networks, from planning to governance, and advise on the implementation of primary care.

British Columbia has 39 primary care networks underway, including 12 in Vancouver Coastal, 14 in Fraser Health, five in Island Health, five in Interior Health and one in Northern Health, with more coming.