Adrian Dix provides few details about changes needed in health-care system: speech

Click to play video: 'B.C. health minister criticized over rural health care'
B.C. health minister criticized over rural health care
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix is being criticized for not taking strong enough action on the critical health care shortages in rural communities. Richard Zussman reports and Keith Baldrey has more on why demands is surging – Sep 13, 2022

Health Minister Adrian Dix laid out his grand vision for the future of health care in B.C. while providing few specifics on how to make changes in a much-anticipated speech at the annual UBCM conference.

In the speech, Dix acknowledged the province is currently in a health-care crisis and has been in one since March 2020.

But in front of a packed Whistler Conference Centre room, he did not provide any new specifics on how the province will be managing the crisis.

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“Our system is not suited to these two phenomenons. More people, more demand, more acuity. When doctors see patients who are more seriously ill, you can see fewer patients,” Dix said.

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Currently, there are nearly one million British Columbians who do not have a family doctor.

The panel at the UBCM also included mayors from urban areas where a shortage of staff in the health-care system has been felt disproportionately.

The province has amended accreditation for internationally trained nurses and Dix alluded to the possibility of amending the process for doctors.

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Persistent staffing shortages in emergency health care in B.C.

Currently, an internationally trained doctor has to work for two years under supervision.

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“We have to break down some of the barriers for those with credentials. We need to expand the programs we have in place for international doctors to bring them to communities,” Dix said.

“We need to transform our system in health care which includes moving to team-based care. Allowing doctors, nurses, pharmacists to work to the full extent of their skills. That means building out primary care networks. It allows doctors to do what they do best. Which is not social workers.”

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The province has added a net of 38,000 workers to the health-care system since Dix became the health minister in 2017.

But he acknowledged that still does not cover the demand.

“You know what everyone in this room is saying to themselves right now. Not enough. That means more doctors, more nurses, more health science professionals. Especially more health-care workers, more ambulance and paramedics,” Dix said.

Port McNeil Mayor Gaby Wickstrom says there needs to be a more open conversation about where human resource shortages exist.

Speaking as part of the rural B.C. health-care caucus, Wickstrom says the province’s smallest communities have been “the frog in boiling water.

“A team approach is needed and it needs to happen across all disciplines and across boundaries,” Wickstrom said.

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Dix also mentioned the death of Queen Elizabeth II contributed to potential delays in government announcements.

BC Liberal health critic Shirley Bond says the frustration from mayors was palpable and the province should have come to the table with commitments.

“This was an opportunity for the minister to step and do something to help the anxiety people are feeling,” Bond said.

“He did absolutely nothing to do that today.”

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