People living in Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay will benefit from the Province’s transformation of everyday health care for people, with the establishment of four primary care networks (PCN) and the province’s largest urgent and primary care centre (UPCC).
“These four primary care networks are bringing the needs of patients and their health-care workers to the forefront and transforming how we deliver primary care into the future,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Victoria’s new patient-focused services reflect the needs of the local community and will add capacity across four new PCNs and a new UPCC, linking services to ensure people get the support they need when they need it and where they need it.”
Urgent and primary care centres bring together health-care workers – including family physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and others – to provide primary care to patients who currently do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner, and weekend and after-hours care, taking pressure off hospital emergency departments.
A primary care network links together family practitioner offices in a local community with a range other health-care professionals – including nurse practitioners, nurses, mental health therapists among others – to provide patients access to a comprehensive range of primary-care services from a team of health-care professionals working together to better meet the needs of individual patients and the community.
Over the next four years, across the four new primary care networks, up to 96.5 more full-time health-care providers will be recruited. This includes family physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, clinical pharmacists, Indigenous health providers and allied health professionals, such as social workers and mental health clinicians. There are 43 primary care clinics participating in the PCN with 126 family physicians.
The four primary care networks will work together to provide patient-centred care for people across Greater Victoria, including James Bay, Fairfield, Oaklands, Fernwood, downtown Victoria, Vic West, Oak Bay, Gordon Head, Shelbourne, Interurban, Tillicum, Quadra and Swan Lake. Over the past two years, engagement has involved the Victoria Division of Family Practice, Indigenous community partners, patient partners, Island Health and key community organizations that deliver primary care to inform PCN service design.
The Victoria networks were developed to better meet the specific needs of the community. The networks will strengthen services identified as high priority. These include:
- better access to health care for those with mild to moderate mental health conditions;
- better co-ordinated services for families and seniors who are frail and people with complex health issues;
- more access to comprehensive services for people living in poverty; and
- culturally safe care for Indigenous peoples.
“When we need to see a health-care provider, we want to know that we can see someone who can help soon,” said Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South. “The new primary care networks and urgent and primary care centre will do just that.”
Murray Rankin, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, said: “People living in Greater Victoria often struggle to get access the health-care services they need when they need it and closer to home. “I am looking forward to the additional access to primary care services that I know will benefit thousands of people in the region.”
The new UPCC means more people and families in Greater Victoria will be able to better access same-day, urgent, non-emergency health care for medical issues varying from minor injuries to mental health, as well as everyday primary care.
The UPCC opened on July 19, 2021, in downtown Victoria at 1107 Pandora Ave. The centre is the largest in the province at 840 square metres (9,045 square feet). For patients who are already attached to the existing local family practices that move into the UPCC, they will continue receiving the ongoing, consistent health care they need at the centre.
Patients will be seen by the team of health-care providers and will be able to self-refer to the UPCC for care. Once the centre is open, it is anticipated that the health-care team will include a range of health-care professionals, including family physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, a mental health and substance use consultant and social workers.
“We know that people in our region deserve the best possible access to primary care providers,” said Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake. “These investments in primary care in Victoria show that government is listening to the needs of residents and is committed to make it easier and faster for them to get the health-care services they need, closer to home.”
Currently, hours of operation at the downtown Victoria UPCC are 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. When fully staffed, those hours will be expanded to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and care will be available seven days a week, including statutory holidays.
“I am proud of our government’s primary care strategy and our continuous action to help people live healthier, better lives by improving access to health care,” said Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill. “I look forward to seeing how the new UPCC will bring meaningful change to the lives of people in the region.”
The downtown Victoria UPCC is a collaboration between Island Health and the Victoria Division of Family Practice. This is the 25th UPCC announced under the government's primary care strategy.
As of May 27, 2021, 53 PCNs have been established in the province with a total of 429.27 net new full-time equivalent staff (FTEs) hired, including:
- 31.01 family physicians;
- 91.3 nurse practitioners;
- 104.5 registered nurses;
- 123.02 allied health professionals;
- 6.75 Indigenous Wellness Providers; and
- 72.69 administrative support personnel.
To learn more about the Province's primary health-care strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0034-001010
To learn more about the Province's strategy to increase the number of nurse practitioners, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018HLTH0034-000995
To learn more about the Province's strategy to recruit and retain more family medicine graduates, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018HLTH0052-001043
Three backgrounders follow.