March 07, 2017
Primary Care Photo

Our third position paper in advance of the May provincial election, entitled Physio Can Help: Physiotherapists Can Help Deliver Primary Care in BCwas released today in Kamloops. The paper describes the challenge of implementing primary health care in BC, and offers a solution through the greater utilization of physiotherapists.
 
A decade ago, in 2007, the provincial government declared that it wanted to have Primary Care fully implemented by 2017. While much progress has been achieved, BC as yet has not realized that objective. The PABC believes that highly skilled physiotherapists, as members of multi-disciplinary teams of health professionals, could be the key to having Primary Care up and running across the province.

This latest position paper researches Primary Care in BC, and finds that the likely reason for the province’s inability to accomplish its 2017 objective is the ongoing shortage of general practitioner physicians (GPs), described as the "cornerstone" of primary health care. Although the number of GPs practicing in the province has increased annually since 2001, the average family physician, year-by-year, works fewer days and sees fewer patients.
 
Research discovered that, whereas GP's in 2001/02 worked an average of 196 days, that number by 2015/16 was down to 175. Over the same period, the number of patients seen each year by the average family physician fell from 2,187 to 1,560. There is also empirical evidence that BC has a relative shortage of other key members of multi-disciplinary primary care teams, notably nurse practitioners and registered nurses.
 
Physiotherapists are well-positioned to play a larger role in BC’s implementation of Primary Care. Our members have the training and skills to offer assessments and triage, to provide treatment, and to help patients recuperate from falls or surgery.
 
It is very clear that physio can help the province achieve its goal of introducing Primary Care in communities across British Columbia. 

Read the full paper here.