Select Standing Committee on Health Submission

The BCNA submitted a report to the BC Select Standing Committee on Health in December 2014, in response to their request for comment on improving the quality and sustainability of health in BC.  The full report can be downloaded here:  BCNA to SSC on Health December 2014.  The Executive Summary is as follows:

Executive Summary

This submission outlines the collective views of British Columbia’s naturopathic doctors on the sustainability of health care. It focuses on the four key areas of inquiry, as outlined by the Select Standing Committee on Health, including:

  • Long-term solutions that address the recruitment and retention of health care professionals in rural British Columbia
  • A cost-effective system of primary and community care built around interdisciplinary teams
  • Best practices for end-of-life care
  • An enhanced effectiveness for addiction recovery programs

Our province has a remarkable number of well-educated and well-trained health professionals. The BC Government should be proud of the breadth and depth of talent offered in our health care sector.

British Columbia’s regulatory environment for health professionals is amongst the best in the world. Our province’s 22 regulatory colleges for health professionals are mandated to serve and protect the public. These regulatory colleges ensure that health professionals are qualified, competent and follow the clearly defined standards of practice and ethics. Colleges respond to complaints from patients and the public alike, and take immediate action when any member practices in a manner that is incompetent, unethical, illegal or impaired.

British Columbia’s naturopathic doctors believe that the solutions to each of the Committee’s areas of inquiry can be solved by a systematic process that removes barriers to care for all health professionals. Like many health professionals, naturopathic doctors have high levels of education and safety training to provide more health care services to patients than the current rules permit. The province’s health care system needs to assess these barriers, decide if they make sense, and trust regulators to ensure that health professionals are meeting necessary qualifications and competencies.

With members practicing in all areas of the province, the BC Naturopathic Association has identified some areas where unnecessary barriers in regards to care exist. We propose some strategic recommendations for the Committee’s considerations in order to make better use of these existing health professionals. Some of these recommendations will help in more than one of the Committee’s areas of inquiry. In brief, our recommendations are as follows:

  • Make full use of existing health resources by enabling all health professionals to practice to the extent of their competencies
  • Reduce barriers to lab access and federally controlled substances to help naturopathic doctors provide a complete range of health services, in particular to rural patients and patients with addictions
  • Increase interdisciplinary care projects, such as Inspire Health and Dr. Gabor Maté’s addictions recovery program, through Health Ministry participation and resources, and through encouraging all health professionals to collaborate
  • Reduce barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration by changing arbitrary rules that prevent naturopathic doctors from accessing hospitals, referring patients to other medical specialists, and from accessing hospice and other end-of-life care facilities
  • Integrate naturopathic doctors into existing Health Ministry programs to benefit from additional perspectives and particularly our profession’s focus on prevention