Dear Minister Dix,
The BC Rural Health Network is pleased to see new investments and actions being taken to address the healthcare crisis and appreciated the actions announced last week. Our organization and our membership watched with interest to see what would be done to address the rural healthcare situation and are reassured to see initiatives that may help stabilize rural health services. We believe the solutions proposed may contribute to sustaining and growing rural health services and, in turn, contribute to better health outcomes for rural residents. We are particularly encouraged by the move to:
- Expand pharmacist deliverables and allow for prescription renewals and some prescription writing. This is a common-sense approach to alleviating what has become a significant care gap for rural residents without a family doctor;
- Create a pool of nurses who can travel and be dispatched to communities facing closure due to staff shortages;
- Create Rural Pathways to Health Education Program Expansion;
- Target Provincial retention incentives;
- Embed reconciliation and cultural safety in health care planning and delivery;
- Advance diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies across all health care sectors;
- Support a Virtual Care and Telehealth Strategy and
- Invest further in nurses, physicians, allied healthcare workers infrastructure and education.
The BC Rural Health Network believes these initiatives are a step in the right direction and we encourage more strategic investment and specifically for rural communities. Strengthening rural healthcare will strengthen resources for the entire province. We also recognize the importance for health care planning decisions, investments, and innovations to be patient-centred, locally relevant and aligned to local experiences and expectations. To this end, we continue to advocate for an infrastructure to support meaningful patient participation in health care decision making.
The BC Rural Health Network has been seeking a meeting for several months to meet and discuss the status of healthcare in rural BC. We have solutions coming from the groups and communities we represent across BC. This Thursday we will be holding our first Implementation Committee meeting that has been opened to outside participation. The BC Rural Health Network board invite you to be represented at this discussion. All political parties have been invited to attend. Having a government representative from the Ministry of Health would be most welcome and would give rural residents knowledge that they are being heard. This new committee is chaired by Dr. Jude Kornelsen of The Centre for Rural Research at UBC. Dr. Kornelsen has dedicated her career to producing evidence-based research on rural health issues.
The membership and the rural public want their voice to be included in healthcare discussions and want solutions which are supported, demonstrated and can be deployed quickly in our communities.
We continue to request a meeting with you on healthcare in rural BC. On the floor of the legislature this morning we heard “It is time to listen to communities across the province”. We agree and hope for your support and the support of the BC Government. We look forward to your response.
The BCRHN is the healthcare voice of the rural residents of British Columbia and seeks better health outcomes for all people, through solutions-based approaches with governments, and information provision to residents.
Yours in health and wellness,
President – BC Rural Health Network