For immediate release
New action plan sets stage for primary health care to be cornerstone of transformation
TORONTO, JANUARY 31 -- The Association of Ontario Health Centres applauds Ontario's new action plan for health care, and especially its commitment to make primary care a cornerstone of health system transformation.
"Minister Matthews is right that system-wide change to primary care is the key to better care and better value for our health care dollars," said Adrianna Tetley, Executive Director of the Association of Ontario Health Centres which represents the province's 73 Community Health Centres, 10 Aboriginal Health Access Centres as well as 15 community-governed Family Health Teams. "Our association's members look forward to meeting the challenge Minister Matthews has given us. We hope other primary care providers and leaders feel the same. Now is the time for primary health care to live up to its full potential, focusing on keeping people well and not just treating them when they are sick. We also need to ensure that individuals and their families receive coordinated care as they navigate through different parts of the health care system," Tetley continues.
Primary health care, or what the government calls family health care, is care from family physicians and nurse practitioners, ideally delivered in a coordinated way with health promotion and illness prevention activities. The Association was especially pleased with a number of specific measures the new plan lays out for primary care services:
- Investing in community, bringing services closer to home;
- Calling on primary care to help individuals and their families to navigate the system, particularly those with multiple complex conditions;
- Expanding same day service and house calls;
- Enabling non-physician health providers to use the full range of skills that they are trained and qualified to do; and
- Integrating evidence-based best practices.
Tetley noted all these measures will lead to better care and more value for money invested. The Association also congratulated Minister Matthews for her commitment to "patient-centered" care and challenged the government to take the concept a step further moving the province to "people-centred" care. Features of people-centred care include:
- Comprehensive primary health care planning designed to meet the various needs of diverse populations;
- A more complete set of services and programs that focus on the many different determinants of health at work within families and communities;
- To improve the health of populations with complex needs, primary care services delivered in partnership with community support, mental health and addictions, social services such as immigrant services and housing, and education;
- Equitable, timely and continuous care that is comprehensive, evidence-informed and culturally safe;
- Every Ontarian having access to interprofessional teams equipped and enabled to work to their full scope of practice.
The Association is supportive of the government's plan to integrate family health care into the LHINs and hopes to work in partnership with the LHINs to develop population needs- based plans to ensure the right care is provided by the right provider in the right place. Tetley noted Ontario's network of 73 Community Health Centres (CHCs) and ten Aboriginal Health Access Centres (AHACs) and 26 Community-governed Family Health Teams offers an excellent foundation for the provincial government to build on as it rolls out its new primary health care plan. CHCs and AHACs are unique because their interprofessional teams provide medical care in combination with health promotion and community development activities, an especially effective mix for communities with complex health issues. Recent studies have demonstrated that compared to other models, CHCs' interprofessional teams deliver a superior quality of care.
"To implement her action plan Minister Matthews can turn to Ontario's Community Health Centres, Aboriginal Health Access Centres and Community-governed Family Health Team's which offer tried and tested solutions," said Tetley. "We look forward to working with the government to fulfill the promise of a strong primary health care sector and to lead the positive transformation she has challenged us to take."
Contact: Mary MacNutt
Manager, Policy and Communications
Association of Ontario Health Centres