Government is investing in short-term measures to support primary care on south Vancouver Island, including supports for physicians, new nursing and allied health resources and stabilization for five walk-in clinics to better support patients.
These measures are based on significant local engagement over the last several months through the South Island Primary Care Network (PCN) Walk-in Clinic Task Force, which included participation of the Ministry of Health, Island Health and the South Island Division of Family Practice, as well as local walk-in clinics and full-service primary care practices.
The Province is providing approximately $3.46 million in short-term stabilization funding to support five walk-in clinics on the South Island: Esquimalt Medical Clinic; Shoreline Medical clinics in Brentwood Bay and Sidney; West Coast Family Medical Clinic in Sooke; and West Saanich Medical Clinic. The funding will support these clinics to remain operational while the ministry collaborates with the partners on longer term solutions. Specific supports include:
- funding for 10.26 full-time-equivalent (FTE) family physician contracts across the five walk-in clinics for nine months, through Dec. 31, 2022;
- funding for 6.78 FTE registered nurse and allied health resources for the South Island Primary Care Networks (PCNs), which will support the five walk-in clinics for nine months and then be redeployed as permanent resources within the PCNs;
- overhead funding in support of the FTEs; and
- funding for project management for the South Island PCN steering committee to support this work in the months ahead.
The ministry is also continuing discussions with the South Island and Victoria Divisions of Family Practice, Island Health and the Doctors of BC on piloting an urban locum program, which will be focused on recruiting new-to-practice family physicians to provide coverage within the local PCNs. As well, the ministry will work with the partners to examine the potential for an after-hours call coverage service supporting local clinics.
Through the Province’s team-based primary care strategy, the Province is improving access to comprehensive, culturally safe, relationship-based primary care by adding new service capacity through a variety of different clinical models, such as full-service family practices, urgent and primary care centres, community health centres, First Nations primary care clinics and nurse practitioner primary care clinics, while transforming the way services are organized and delivered through local PCNs.
Full-service family practices are and will remain a part of the primary care system, and government recognizes the need to support family practices in the transition toward a team-based approach to primary care. The ministry and Doctors of BC are in discussions about a timeline and process for addressing issues facing family practices over the next several months. The Province will continue working with the Doctors of BC, family physicians and other partners to keep improving primary care services for patients throughout British Columbia.
To learn more about the Province's primary health-care strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0034-001010
A backgrounder follows.