I know people in Oak Bay have concerns about our health-care system and have ideas for how to address the community’s health-care needs. I’ve met people advocating to all levels of government for changes to our health-care system. As a government, we’ve been listening to these calls for changes and working to fix the health-care system that for too long was left unsupported by previous governments. We’re doing work to make it right, and best serve all British Columbians.
One thing we’ve heard from doctors and patients across B.C. is that the payment model for family doctors was not working and no longer suited their needs – we took action on that and just announced the implementation of a new compensation model for family doctors that we believe will help relieve pressure on current family doctors and attract new ones. This new opt-in model will allow family doctors to get paid not only on the basis of the number of patients seen per day, but taking into account the time spent with patients and the complexity of the issues they are presented with.
We also released a human resource strategy to make our health-care system more effective and to help retain and train more health workers. This multi-year strategy is already in progress, with one major action in progress right now being the expansion of prescribing powers for pharmacists, so you don’t have to go to a doctor for every prescription. Pharmacists can now adapt and renew a wider range of prescriptions, and will be able to administer a wider range of drugs. We also are working to extend the amount of time prescriptions are valid for, and working with the College of Pharmacists to allow pharmacists to prescribe to treat minor ailments and to prescribe contraceptives by next spring.
The impact of our government’s work is already being seen. Through the incentives announced in June 2022 for new family medicine graduates to practice in communities across B.C., we’ve seen 54 new doctors sign contacts, with over 60 more in contact discussions. These incentives, like signing bonuses and debt forgiveness, will help these family doctors work with patients in communities all over B.C., helping thousands more people have access to the primary care they need.
We also are taking action to recognize the qualifications for more doctors and health-care professionals who trained outside the province, so they can join the health-care workforce and do the work they studied hard to do. Additionally, we plan to train more doctors and health-care professionals in-province through expanding the UBC medical school program, continuing with our plans to build a second medical school in B.C., and continuing to invest to add hundreds of post-secondary seats for allied health professionals and nurses.
There is more work to do, and we will continue this work to make sure everyone can get the care they need in our community, and communities across B.C. We’re glad to be making progress already.
Murray Rankin is the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
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