The B.C. government has announced it will be investing in short-term measures in an effort to support primary care and keep walk-in clinics open on south Vancouver Island.
These short-term measures include additional supports for physicians, new nursing and allied health resources and stabilization for five walk-in clinics with the goal of better supporting patients.
Adrian Dix, B.C.’s minister of health, says the pandemic has made the issue of primary care worse on the south Island.
“Everybody knows for these practices and for the region around Victoria and in Victoria, this has been a particularly challenging time this period of the pandemic,” Dix said.
“But I’m very appreciative this short term solution, which is important for people in terms of their access to care in the capital region, and it’s part of the continuing work we’re doing to improve primary care across B.C.”
The Ministry of Health says these measures are based on local engagement over the last several months through the South Island Primary Care Network (PCN) Walk-in Clinic Task Force. This task force 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.
Dix says these five clinics requested funding through the task force.
“These five were the ones that participated in this particular taskforce, and we were able to find this solution in the short run as we work together for longer term solutions,” Dix said.
The Province says it will provide 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.
The Province says these supports will 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 nurses 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 says it hopes to work with partners to examine the potential for an after-hours call coverage service supporting local clinics.