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Backgrounder(s) & FactSheet(s):Backgrounder




For Immediate Release


May 29, 2007

Ministry of Health




VICTORIA – Making sure that more British Columbians have their own family doctor, ensuring that patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension are better managed, and reducing pressures on acute care – these are some of the goals of the Primary Health Care Charter launched today by Health Minister George Abbott.


The Charter sets the direction and establishes seven health priorities that are supported by a number of high-impact projects to transform the primary health-care system in British Columbia.  The Charter reflects the growing prevalence of chronic disease with three of the Charter’s priorities centred on improving care for individuals living with chronic conditions and prevention among those at risk.


“The primary health-care system is usually the first point of access – and for the majority of people, the only regular contact with our health system,” said Abbott. “By concentrating on individuals who use the system most often we can improve their quality of care, their overall health and well-being, and reduce pressures and costs across the health system. These are critical targeted changes, and done well, they will produce a big impact.”


Chronic disease is the biggest obstacle to sustainability of the public health-care system.  More than 1.3 million people in B.C. suffer from one or more chronic conditions and over 90,000 people suffer from four or more. While people with chronic conditions represent around 34 per cent of the B.C. population, these individuals consume approximately 80 per cent of the combined MSP, PharmaCare and acute care budgets.


“Achieving the priorities set out in the Charter will make British Columbia a leader in patient-centred care,” said Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid, president of the BC Medical Association. “The doctors of B.C. welcome the opportunity to work with government, health authorities, and other clinicians to improve primary care, which in turn will reduce the burden in other areas of health care.”


A key element in transforming the episodic health care that patients have received over the last 30 years is the shift that re-orients health services to work with patients as they journey through the health care system.  For some patients this could mean integrated teams of health-care providers; for others, it could mean tools and training to support patient self-management. It could also be as simple as planned care, where patients with a chronic condition or complex health problem will have a plan for their care developed with their family physician.


General practitioners constitute the largest workforce in primary health care, with over 4,600 practising in British Columbia in 2005/06.  The recent agreement signed between the government and the province’s physicians focused on system change, not just compensation.  The focal point is $422 million allocated for primary health care over the next four years through investments in chronic disease management and encouraging GPs to pursue full service family practice.


A number of new and enhanced programs and fees have already been introduced that will support the principles of the charter. These include grants to community agencies for stroke and cognitive behavioural therapy.  Other programs and fees have been implemented for health-care providers that give them access to the tools and training they need to better assist patients suffering from chronic disease and redesign their practices to see more patients.


Approximately 80 per cent of British Columbia’s population will have contact with the primary care system in any one year, making it the most important point of contact for accessing services and care and a key focus in the discussion on sustainability.  The Charter was developed in partnership between the Ministry of Health, health authorities, the BC Medical Association, regulatory bodies, primary care providers and community organizations across British Columbia and ties together the various activities and investments in the Primary Health Care system.


Over the coming days and months, new initiatives will be rolling out that will ensure the priorities established under the Primary Health Care Charter are achieved.


Copies of the charter are posted on the Ministry of Health website at 



 1 backgrounder(s) attached.





Marisa Adair

Communications Director

Ministry of Health

250 920-8500 (cell)

250 952-1887 (media line)


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