Health Committee Preps for P.G. Visit
Prince George, B.C. – The Select Standing Committee on Health will be in Prince George on July 5th, and Chair Linda Larson (MLA for Boundary -Similkameen) says the Committee is looking for best practices which can be shared and possibly adopted by other regions.Northern Health has just unveiled a new way of delivering primary care, ( see previous story) which has a family physician at the core, supported by a team of professionals. The idea is to create a one stop shop for those with complex health issues so they can have access to a number of experts at one time, rather than waiting for referrals or numerous appointments with other professionals.
“It’s not than we’re trying to do something different” says Larson, “Northern Health has some wonderful programs. We’re not trying to take their programs off the table or anything like that, what we’re trying to do is perhaps spread those programs around.”
Larson says the Committee wants to know what kinds of programs are being offered throughout the north “There are some pretty good groups who are working on trying to handle all round health care in small communities, and where there’s been best practices that’s what we want to hear about. It’s not that we want to change things that are working, it’s that if there is something that’s working out there, maybe it will work in other parts of the province.”
Health care represents more than 40% of the entire Provincial budget says Larson, “The cost of health care is huge, and that ( cost savings) is definitely on the table at all times, looking for efficiencies and ways to do things better.”
Recruitment and retention remain concerns for rural BC “We’ve had some submissions in the past two years” says Larson, “There were some really neat recruitment incentives. I know they have been used sometimes in the past and could possibly be used again. One of them was helping a Doctor pay back student loans providing they stayed in a rural community for a minimum of 5 years. We are hoping there are some communities out there that have mastered the art of attracting new doctors and keeping them, and they will tell us how they did it.”
While the Committee is looking to find out more about rural programs, there are only 2 members on the Committee (Larson and Donna Barnett who is the MLA for the Cariboo Chilcotin) who represent ridings outside of highly urbanized areas, . Larson doesn’t see that as having an impact on the Committee’s work “The rural part is only one of the things we’ve dealt with, and certainly MLA Barnett and I can hold our own. But overall, the Committee was formed as a bipartisan committee and the topics that we went out to explore hit both sides of the spectrum, so we’ve (Barnett and Larson) had just as loud a voice on things that are urban as well as what is rural.”
The public hearing in Prince George is set for 9:30 to 5 on July 5th in room 208 at the Civic Centre. Submissions can be made until the 29th of July.
The Committee’s report is expected to be released this fall.