THE BC Liberals on Monday pointed out that as Canadian premiers meet in Victoria to discuss health care and other critical issues, only two blocks away from the meeting another NDP Urgent and Primary Care Centre (UPCC) remains seriously understaffed, failing to meet the health care needs of area residents. This, while many B.C. hospitals frequently go on diversion as the province grapples with a worsening health care crisis.
“The NDP announced the James Bay UPCC in Victoria with great fanfare and the promise that the clinic would provide residents with ‘the health care they need, when they need it.’ Since it opened that has simply not been the case,” said Shirley Bond, BC Liberal Critic for Health.
“The clinic is regularly at capacity by 8:30 a.m., leaving residents to either wait for hours in already stressed hospital emergency rooms or weeks for an appointment. Additionally, despite being presented as a way to get more people attached to a primary care provider, doctors continue to walk away from the clinic — at least three since last August — leaving new patients wondering where they can go to get much-needed care.”
Data on UPCC staffing from the Ministry of Health shows the James Bay UPCC has only 43 per cent of the staff it is budgeted for, including only 3.8 full-time equivalent physicians out of the 6.6 needed, and none of the 3.31 budgeted nurse practitioners. This while one in five British Columbians can’t access a family doctor and hospitals across the province are frequently forced to close their ERs and maternity wards due to staffing shortages.
“Health Minister Adrian Dix continues to ignore the fact that UPCCs, like the one in James Bay, just aren’t living up to expectations — especially when he leaves them inadequately staffed,” said Bond. “Across the province, these facilities are frequently over capacity, understaffed, and failing to fulfil the role they were supposedly designed for.
“There is a clear crisis in our health care system and it starts with primary care. Until the NDP genuinely listens to doctors and takes real steps to get more people attached to primary care providers, every part of our system will remain under pressure. It’s time for action to train, recruit, and importantly, retain our health care workers. B.C. cannot afford to wait any longer for the NDP to act.”
Backgrounder: B.C. health care closure crisis (updated July 11, 2022)