Province gives up on goal of a family doctor for everyone

Photo by Andrew Malone, Flickr

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Health Minister Terry Lake has conceded this will be another year the government fails to meet its target to match every B.C. resident with a family doctor.

The Liberals promised in 2010 to do so by 2015, and the party allocated $132-million to the GP for Me program during  the 2013 election campaign.

The GP for Me program aimed to recruit and retain new doctors in a bid to help residents of B.C. in need of a family doctor, and included incentives for doctors to increase their ability to treat more frail patients and to use more telephone consultations and conferencing options.

However, a story in the Vancouver Sun says Lake has also said in a Victoria Times Colonist interview it was a very stretched target, and a there’s not a jurisdiction he knows that’s been able to achieve it.

Still, he believes the work hasn’t been in vain and that it will get us to the place where the primary care needs of British Columbians will be met.

That noted, the province’s goal is now said to be to match every B.C. resident with a primary care home, where an integrated team of doctors, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and/or others contributes to a universal medical record.

According to the Sun, the Ministry won’t say it has abandoned the program target, but instead claims it has ‘broadened’ its view of access to primary care.

Meantime, in Fort St. John, what Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm has called a complicated process, has still not formally produced a new health care model, aimed at addressing the priorities and concerns of all the stakeholders involved.

Pimm, along with local doctors, Northern Health and the Ministry of Health, have been working since last summer to develop a model for local primary and community health care. The model is expected to attract new physicians to the city, retain those already practicing here, and assist those wishing to transition into retirement.

While there’s been some evidence of each of those objectives taking place in recent months, there are only two months left  for a formal announcement to be made. It would put in place the new model in time to even be considered for its previously targeted implementation time period, the first part of this year.

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