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Ministry of Health

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B.C. makes it easier to find a primary-care provider

The Province is making it easier for people to get a family doctor or nurse practitioner in their community by launching more actions starting in April 2024, including:

  • Introducing new, automated and regular communications to people on the Health Connect Registry to:
    • maintain contact with people on the Health Connect Registry at least every 90 days;
    • connect to people on the Health Connect Registry to reconfirm their need for attachment, check with them on any changes to their health status, and provide information on health services in their area;
    • more substantial and customized information provided to people at the time of registration about services available in their community, as well as information about how to update changes to their health status through 811 or online;
    • send out notifications when people are selected for an intake by a primary-care provider;
    • send out notifications regarding the outcome of intake meetings; and
    • other communications, as needed.
  • Launching a new in B.C. digital tool that will make it faster and easier for attachment co-ordinators to connect people to a primary-care provider. Before, the process was done manually. Through this:
    • attachment co-ordinators will now have access to digital information on family physicians and nurse practitioners who can take on new patients, in addition to the people registered onto the Health Connect Registry; and
    • primary-care providers will receive an electronic notification that they have a list of patients for consideration.
Actions taken to date to improve access to primary care in B.C.

This announcement continues to build on government actions to strengthen health care and improve access to team-based primary care since 2018.

Budget 2023 provides nearly $1.1 billion over three years to implement the new compensation model for family physicians announced in October 2022 and launched in February 2023, provide recruitment and retention incentives for new-to-practice family physicians and those approaching retirement, and build new IT systems such as patient-clinic registries to support access to primary-care services. 

In addition, since 2018-19, the Province has invested more than $692 million to support new team-based primary care in family practice clinics, urgent and primary-care centres (UPCCs), community health centres (CHCs), nurse practitioner clinics, First Nations primary-care clinics and more, with the goal of networking and better co-ordinating primary-care services through local Primary Care Networks in communities throughout the province.

Since the Province's team-based primary-care strategy was announced in 2018, nearly 410,000 people in B.C. have been connected to a family doctor or nurse practitioner.

As of January 2024, about 1,800 full-time equivalents health-care workers in primary care networks have been recruited, including doctors, nurse practitioners and allied health professionals, with more to come, as the Province expands team-based primary care. Initiatives include:

  • There are 77 primary-care networks in implementation. Work is underway to establish them in all communities throughout the province over the next two years.
  • There are 32 new UPCCs in implementation with more in development.
  • Launched the new longitudinal family physician payment model in February 2023 and 4,089 physicians have registered.
  • The New-to-Practice Incentives Program was introduced in June 2022 for early career or new-to-B.C. family physicians who choose to work in longitudinal family practice that has 239 new family physicians.
  • There are 236 new nurse practitioners working under active contracts.
    • B.C. collaborated with Doctors of BC in October 2022 to provide $118 million in short-term stabilization payments to primary-care clinics and providers, while developing the new longitudinal family practice payment model. More than 1,230 clinics received this stabilization funding.
    • The Province announced the Health Human Resources Strategy in September 2022 to ensure people get the health services they need and are cared for by a healthy workforce. The strategy focuses on 70 actions to recruit, train and retain health-care workers, while redesigning the health-care system to foster workplace satisfaction and innovation. Some key highlights of the actions announced to date include:
    • As of December 2023, nearly 300,000 people have benefited from free contraceptives and being able to see a pharmacist for treatment of minor ailments or contraceptives since government expanded the scope of practice for pharmacists on June 1, 2023.
    • Making it easier for internationally educated nurses, medical graduates and allied health professionals to work in B.C.
    • Working with Practice Ready Assessment BC (PRA-BC) to triple the number of PRA-BC supported physicians dedicated to primary-care networks throughout the province.
    • Adding up to 88 new residency seats to expand post-graduate medical education and up to 40 undergraduate medical education seats annually, in partnership with the Ministry of Post Secondary Education and Future Skills and UBC.
    • Establishing a second medical school in Surrey.
    • Expanding mental-health services and anti-racism supports for nurses to help strengthen the nursing workforce and enable culturally safe patient care.