In March 2022, the PACC hosted a presentation on the primary care crisis from Andrew Earnshaw, Executive Director of the KB Division of Family Practice. PACC members learned about growing pressures on primary care and strategies being employed by KB Divisions to support clinics and clinicians and advocate for system improvements. PACC members offered their perspectives on the situation and proposed ideas to help ease the pressures.

PACC members were overwhelmingly concerned that only 5% of the overall healthcare budget goes to primary care and that more physicians are taking hospital-based roles. 

There are too few GPs and they work fewer hours in longitudinal care. The situation feels dire, particularly for mental healthcare. PACC members would like to see better access to primary and preventive care, especially for vulnerable groups. After-hours care and a call system in primary care clinics were also seen as gaps.

PACC members’ suggestions for improvement included:

  • Expand the scope of practice of medical office assistants and paraprofessionals and pay them for the increased scope of work. 
  • Utilize outreach teams such as community paramedics to provide some primary care in community settings possibly focused on vulnerable populations and unattached patients.
  • Contact community organizations that provide some health care services for their clients (e.g. seniors flu clinic) and determine if they could do more
  • Increase education for patients (including young people) about what they can do for themselves, how team based care works and how to use it effectively, and how to navigate the system.
  • Streamline access to direct services and equipment such as blood pressure machines and routine blood sugar testing for diabetes care.
  • Sustain virtual care where it’s a good fit for the patient and health issue, and improving MyHealthPortal to track preventative services and include plain language user-friendly summaries of test results.      
  • Fund Community Health Centres where community-based boards operate clinics as non-profit organizations.
  • Increase public communications about the crisis so that GPs don’t take the brunt of patient complaints about the system.

June 2022 | Contributor: Ruth Beck, PACC Support Person, KB Division