Two new primary care networks for patients without family doctors coming to Greater Victoria

The B.C. government is ­adding 22 primary care networks in 13 regions where teams of health professionals will provide services for patients without a family doctor, including two in the Saanich Peninsula and the Western Communities.

The networks connect care providers including doctors and nurse practitioners with patients in a particular area with an aim to provide faster service.

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Health Minister Adrian Dix said the new networks will be added over the next three years. Seventeen such networks already exist.

He said about 470 health-care professionals will be hired and existing networks include pharmacists and counsellors providing mental health services for substance users.

On the Saanich Peninsula, that will mean four additional family physicians, the equivalent of 13.8 registered nurses, three nurse practitioners, and a clinical pharmacist, among others. The network will serve North Saanich, Central Saanich and Saanich, the province said.

The Western Communities network will add the equivalent of 20.5 family physicians, 7.5 nurse practitioners, 13.8 registered nurses, and a clinical pharmacist. It will serve Esquimalt, View Royal, Colwood, Metchosin, Langford, Highlands, Sooke and the Juan de Fuca area, along with five First Nations.

Indigenous health and wellness providers, including Indigenous wellness support coaches and cultural safety facilitators, will be recruited in support of Indigenous health. For ­Indigenous peoples, this will mean more co-ordinated and culturally safe primary care support.

Dix said the goal is to provide faster and more convenient care, including at 19 primary and urgent care centres that are open on weekends and evenings in some cases.

He said there will be ­challenges in hiring nurses, for example, but the province has increased training spots in ­anticipation of filling some ­openings.

— With a file from the Times Colonist

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