McGuinty government improving access to front-line health care

Archived Release

McGuinty government improving access to front-line health care

Ministry of Health

New Supports For Family Health Care a Real, Positive Change OTTAWA, March 16 - The McGuinty government is improving people's access to front-line health care by funding 45 new primary care initiatives across the province, Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman announced today. "When people have a health problem they need to be able to turn to a family physician or health care team in their community," said Smitherman. "All too often people end up in the emergency room for a minor illness because their doctor's office is closed or there's no other community-based health care close by." The new primary care projects will bring together family physicians, nurse practitioners and other front-line health professionals to deliver around-the-clock care to people. "Our people's health is our most precious resource," said Smitherman. "The McGuinty government is committed to working with doctors, other front-line professionals and communities to build family health teams that meet local needs to keep Ontarians healthy. Ontario has great examples of doctors, nurses and others working in teams to treat everyday illnesses like the flu and to keep people healthy. We need to build on the strengths of these teams." The $39.2 million in funding comes from the federal Primary Health Care Transition Fund, which assists provincial and territorial governments to strengthen primary care services. Ontario's portion is $213 million over four years beginning in 2002/2003. Smitherman made the announcement during a visit to the Bruyère Family Health Network based at the University of Ottawa. The Bruyère Family Health Network delivers front-line health care to inner city youth. "Family health teams will relieve the strain on family doctors by allowing them to benefit from the complementary knowledge and skills of their colleagues," said Smitherman. "Our government is committed to making Ontario the best place to practice family medicine. By improving physicians' quality of life and supporting them to provide the best possible care, we will attract physicians to a career in family health care." This news release is available on our website at: http://www.health.gov.on.ca Version française disponible Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- RENEWING ONTARIO'S PRIMARY HEALTH CARE SYSTEM Improving primary health care is at the core of the McGuinty government's plan for positive change in Ontario's health care system. The government is committed to building high quality front-line health services in the community. Commonly termed primary care reform, the plan is to have family health teams that allow physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and other front-line professionals to work together to provide comprehensive, around the clock care to communities. Family health teams will provide a continuum of services from promoting good health, prevention, testing and diagnosis to basic treatment and management of chronic diseases, such as diabetes. Physicians, nurse practitioners and other members of the team will benefit by working together in a positive working environment, sharing and benefiting from the complementary knowledge and skill of their colleagues. Patients will benefit by having improved access to a range of family health providers who will care for them when they are ill and help them stay healthy in the first place. Providing more Ontarians with access to front-line health care will reduce the strain on hospitals and emergency rooms and save the system money. Primary Health Care Transition Fund The federal government's Primary Care Health Care Transition Fund was created to assist provincial and territorial governments with transitional costs as they renew their primary health care systems. As agreed by federal/provincial/territorial governments, the McGuinty government is using the fund to support the following projects: inter-disciplinary demonstration, research, evaluation, leadership training, accreditation, mental health and rehabilitation. These initiatives will help us to: - expand the patient's access to services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week; - establish interdisciplinary teams of health care providers; - improve coordination and integration of primary care services with other health services including home care, hospitals and long-term care facilities; - increase the emphasis on health promotion, disease and injury prevention, and the management of chronic diseases; and - increase the number of primary health care organizations that provide comprehensive services to a defined population (such as social/economic groups or ethnic communities). Examples of projects that have been funded include: - helping family doctors and pharmacists work together to improve drug therapies for patients, particularly those with complex drug treatments requiring multiple drugs; - bringing nurse practitioners into the emergency rooms of hospitals to treat patients with front line health care needs, improving access to care and enhancing the efficiency of ERs; and - clinics that meet the needs of at risk populations, such as inner-city youth. The Primary Health Care Transition Fund was launched in 2000 and funding was made available to Ontario in 2002. The federal government committed $800 million to enhance front line health care across Canada. Ontario's share of this funding is $213 million. To date, 15 projects have been funded and 45 will be funded over the next year, for a total of $52 million.For further information: Members of the media: Eva Lannon, Minister's Office, (416) 327-4320; Tanya Cholakov, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, (416) 314-6197; Members of the general public: (416) 327-4327, or (800) 268-1154