What the provincial budget means for doctor shortage in Kamloops - InfoNews

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What the provincial budget means for doctor shortage in Kamloops

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
February 24, 2017 - 8:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - With a provincial election just around the corner, B.C.'s Health Ministry has received an increase in funding in the 2017-2018 provincial budget, and it's going to have an impact on Kamloops residents.

Kamloops-North Thompson MLA and provincial Health Minister Terry Lake says this new funding will help Kamloops' health care system continue to grow.

"We know that access to primary care in Kamloops has been a challenge," Lake says. "Our budget increase will include initiatives around primary care and already we started that in Kamloops."

Lake says this is the largest dollar amount increase ever in the health budget, which adds up to an increase of $4.2 billion over three years.

Some of that, he says, will be going toward primary care intiatives across the province, including here in Kamloops. Work has already been started to address the doctor shortage in the city, including the opening of the primary care clinic at the North Shore Health Sciences Centre.

"We’ll be opening the downstairs part of (the clinic), which will include nurse practitioners that will be able to see patients," Lake says. "The Northills Health Centre is under construction and should be open by the end of March, early April."

The additional funding could also help with recruiting general practitioners to Kamloops long-term, he says.

"There are a lot of different elements that help to recruit physicians and other health professionals," Lake says. "This extra funding and the initiatives on primary care will be helpful. "We’re going to have a brand new $417-million patient care tower, that’s going to be very attractive for health care professionals."

Lake is referring to the recently approved tower planned to be developed at Royal Inland Hospital.

He points out the solution isn't just about finding a way to attract doctors, it's about keeping them in Kamloops. He's optimistic the city will become the new model for primary care systems across the province.

"We need new models for primary care and Kamloops is really on the forefront of this with the North Shore Health Sciences Centre and the Northills Health Centre," Lake says. "These will be the new paradigm for many aspects of primary care where you have integrated health care teams... doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, other health care professionals dealing with, not just primary care but the specialized services that people need."

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