The Victoria and South Island Divisions of Family Practice representing over 450 family doctors working on southern Vancouver Island are surveying community members to better understand local health care needs.
The survey is part of a provincewide initiative called A GP for Me that was launched in 2013 by the Government of BC and Doctors of BC (formerly the BC Medical Association). The goal of A GP for Me is to help patients who want a family doctor find one, and to increase capacity in the primary health care system.
“By analyzing various available data sources and conducting these surveys the Victoria and South Island Divisions of Family Practice will gain a broader understanding of the health care needs of our community,” says Dr. Kathy Dabrus, physician spokesperson for the Victoria Division.
Dr. Robin Saunders, a family doctor practicing in Sooke speaking on behalf of the South Island Division says that while there will not be an instant solution for everyone: “These strategies will inform the process of identifying sustainable solutions to build capacity and to give more patients access to family doctors over time.”
Coordinating the launch of the public survey by both divisions will help improve participation and contribute to an increased understanding of the challenges and needs of the broader community.
The surveys are the first part of a multi-pronged, multi-year initiative that involves planning and assessing both community needs and physician capacity in southern Vancouver Island communities. Phase two, beginning next year, will look at implementing new initiatives to improve access to family doctors by increasing capacity.
“Increasing capacity, and therefore access to family doctors, will require a range of initiatives including things like physician recruitment and retention, improved office practice efficiencies, and new models of primary care delivery,” says Dr. Dabrus, noting that the Victoria Division is putting a specific focus on vulnerable populations.
Dr. Robin Saunders says it is a large and complex challenge and the access to a regular family doctor is a problem right across the country.
“Not being able to find a family doctor is not unique to our area,” says Dr. Saunders, adding: “But we do have a unique opportunity here because we have been able to bring all of the family doctors working in southern Vancouver Island together around a common need and goal of improving access to family health care.”
The community survey is available online. The Victoria and South Island Divisions of Family Practice are also providing the survey in a variety of other ways including a print version. Each Division can be contacted for more information about how and where the public can access the survey.
The online link for the South Island Community Survey is: fluidsurveys.com/s/SouthIslandCommunitySurvey.