Community health centre cuts will lead to higher costs, worse care, patients without GPs

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VANCOUVER – Thousands of patients will lose their family doctor and receive lower quality care, while the health system will incur increased costs if primary care programs are cut at community health centres in Vancouver, say the B.C. New Democrats.

“It makes no sense to cut successful programs that provide primary, preventive care to thousands of Vancouver residents, many of whom are high risk” said Dix. “Thousands of patients will lose their family doctor, adding to the 100,000 Vancouver residents already searching for one.”

“Our health system will spend more money to deliver worse care, as emergency room and walk in clinic visits and hospitalizations replace a preventive approach to care,” said New Democrat health critic Judy Darcy. “Increased costs are simply being shifted from one part of the system to another; it’s bad for patients and it’s bad for taxpayers.

At least three and maybe more community health centres are slated to lose their primary, preventive care programs, as those services are consolidated into the Raven Song centre. Only five per cent of patients, who will have to travel much greater distances, will be eligible for the services provided by Raven Song. The affected health centres include South, Pacific Spirit and Evergreen.

“In addition, major cuts at the Mid-Main community health centre could result in the loss of diabetes prevention and chronic disease management programs there,” said Darcy. These programs are cost-effective and save money for the health system by reducing the number of patients who are forced to make hospital visits.

“These are short-sighted decisions that go against the volumes of evidence that shifting patients to stable, preventive primary care results in lower costs and better health outcomes.”

Darcy added that the Mid-Main Community Health Centre is having its budget slashed and will be forced to lay off one nurse practitioner and multiple medical office assistants. The cuts to the Mid-Main Community Health Centre will place programs for patients with chronic conditions and frail seniors in serious jeopardy.