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Government Making Progress Toward Ensuring All Manitobans Have Access to Family Doctors by 2015: Premier

News Release – Manitoba
June 13, 2012

Manitoba is moving forward to train and hire more doctors and nurse practitioners, build more clinics and improve access to care as part of its plan to ensure all Manitobans have access to a family doctor by 2015, Premier Greg Selinger announced today.

“We made a strong commitment that all Manitobans will have access to a family doctor by 2015 and we’re moving toward that goal by training and hiring more family doctors, building more clinics and training staff in clinics to offer same-day or next-day appointments,” said Selinger. “Our plan is about more than doctors, as we also train and hire more nurse practitioners and other providers to make sure families get the quality care they need when and where they need it.”Plans include:

• training more doctors by funding 14 additional family medicine residencies;
• training more nurse practitioners by adding three additional training seats this fall;
• increasing the number of clinics that offer same-day or next-day appointments to 60 from 40; and
• launching primary care networks, which will be partnerships between independent family doctors and regions to offer team-based care, hire more providers such as dieticians and ensure patients have better access to care on evenings and weekends.

The premier also noted there are more than 20 clinics under development or construction including QuickCare clinics, ACCESS Centres, community health centres and mobile clinics.

“Physicians who complete their residency training in Manitoba are more likely to stay here and practise,” said Dr. Brian Postl, dean of medicine at the University of Manitoba. “We are delighted the province is further supporting our family medicine residency program. This will result in more family physicians delivering crucial health care to Manitobans across the province.”

The premier noted the province is continuing to support the physician assistant and nurse practitioner programs at the University of Manitoba and is adding three additional seats to the nurse practitioner program this year. Many of these graduates will work in primary care settings where they increase the capacity of family physicians to take on new patients.

Teams of health-care providers are also being introduced through primary care networks, which are formal agreements between family doctors and a health region to jointly plan and provide primary care services to patients.

While family physicians will still be a key provider of care, networks may have other professionals help deliver health-care services. Each primary care network will be regionally based and include a range of providers such as family physicians, dieticians, mental-health workers, home-care staff and public health nurses.

“Expanding physicians’ practices to include other care providers and having practices working together to provide more services will improve access to care for patients in the community and reduce pressure on hospitals,” said Dr. Brock Wright, senior vice-president of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

The doctors and other health-care providers in the network will work together to develop a health plan tailored for each patient, co-ordinate care to meet a patient’s specific needs and track the patient’s journey, the premier said. Each health-care provider is regularly updated on the status of the patient’s health, which means patients will have to repeat their medical histories less often and spend less time arranging who to see and where to go next, he added.

“We need to support providers so they have time to spend on direct patient care,” said Selinger. “By working together, patients will have access to better co-ordinated care and providers will be able to focus more on their patients.”

A network might include one clinic with many physicians and support staff, or doctors and staff in several clinics in a region. Each will have the flexibility to deliver services geared toward the local community and will also direct patients to after-hours care, if needed, the premier said.

“Nurse practitioners help to meet the government promise of a health-care provider for all Manitobans by 2015 by working in various settings including acute, long-term and community health care,” said Annabelle Reimer, president of the Nurse Practitioner Association of Manitoba. “Manitobans receiving care from a nurse practitioner can expect improved continuity of care, improved primary health and reduced emergency room visits, and primary care networks will continue to build and enhance Manitobans access to patient-focused primary health care.”

The province has supported the opening of 38 primary health-care sites since 1999 and there are 21 new or expanded primary health-care locations planned or under construction to enhance or expand primary-care services across Manitoba.

The premier noted that last year, 40 clinics were trained to offer same-day or next-day medical appointments, and staff at 20 additional clinics will receive training this year.

For more information on primary care in Manitoba, visit: www.gov.mb.ca/health/primarycare/index.html.

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