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This past week, the BC Select Standing Committee on Health released their 2017 Report entitled Looking Forward: Improving Rural Health Care, Primary Care, and Addiction Recovery Programs.
Edward Staples, SOHC President, made a presentation to the Committee in July, 2016, addressing the following three areas of inquiry:
- How can we improve health and health care services in rural British Columbia? In particular, what long-term solutions can address the challenges of recruitment and retention of health care professionals in rural British Columbia?
- How can we create a cost-effective system of primary and community care built around interdisciplinary teams?
- How can we enhance the effectiveness of addiction recovery programs?
Although the 59 recommendations in the Report apply to all British Columbians, the first twelve deal specifically with rural health care issues:
- Expand access to health care in rural, remote and isolated areas with a full suite of health care services, including, but not limited to: acute care; home supports; respite care; mental health and addictions services; counselling; specialists; testing or imaging; preventative and rehabilitative care; and cardiac, surgical, maternity and pediatric care.
- Expand or provide transportation options that are accessible, affordable and readily- available to enable access to health care, including ground, air and water transportation, as well as public transit and shuttle bus options.
- Support aging in place through increased home supports, and assisted living and residential care spaces.
- Increase the use of alternative models of health care delivery, including interdisciplinary teams, fully-accessible travelling diagnostic and screening clinics, mobile health units, and expanded use of nurse practitioners, nurses and midwives.
- Expand Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and community paramedic programs to enable paramedics to provide other health services, in addition to emergency services, in remote, rural and isolated communities.
- Establish rehabilitative or convalescent spaces to support individuals transitioning back into their communities.
- Implement alternative compensation models, including salary, population-based funding or other blended funding models, to support new ways of delivering health care, such as the increased use of interdisciplinary co-located teams.
- Increase flexibility in physician billing to support different models of health care delivery, including in-person, telephone or videoconferencing options.
- Incorporate rural practice and generalist models of care in education and training curriculums, and work with post-secondary institutions to increase the overall provision of education for doctors, nurses, allied health and other health care providers across the province, including increased seats in programs where shortages have been identified.
- Encourage British Columbians from rural, remote and isolated communities to pursue health-related careers, and provide increased support for professional development for existing rural health care providers.
- Work with communities to promote the professional and personal benefits of living and working in rural B.C., and improve scheduling and work assignments to create a stable health care workforce in rural, remote and isolated areas of the province.
- Accelerate the qualifying and approval process for integrating foreign-trained health care providers to work in British Columbia.
To read the full report, click on the following link: