FREDERICTON (CNB) – New Brunswickers are being asked by the provincial government for their opinions about how to improve primary health care in New Brunswick.

Health Minister Madeleine Dubé released today a discussion paper, Improving Access and Delivery of Primary Health Care Services in New Brunswick, which makes 12 recommendations to improve primary health-care services.

"We need to put a stronger focus on primary health care if we are to keep our system sustainable for future generations," Dubé said. "New Brunswickers need timely access to quality health care with a greater focus on healthy living. Our goal is that, by 2015, more New Brunswickers will have access to a family doctor than patients in any other province."

Primary health care is usually the first place people go when they have health concerns. It is first-contact health care and may include community-based services such as care by a family doctor, an after-hours clinic, a nurse practitioner or other health-care practitioners such as nutritionists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers and Tele-Care.

The paper, prepared by the Primary Health Care Advisory Committee, makes recommendations with the goal of providing all New Brunswickers with access to a family practice team able to provide personalized, comprehensive and co-ordinated primary health-care services.

"Moving to a model of collaborative care focused on keeping the population healthy in addition to healing the sick will require a fundamental shift in philosophy for all New Brunswickers," Dubé said. "This is true for my department, all health-care workers and the population in general. However, the challenges we will face at the beginning will be offset by a greater quality of life for all New Brunswickers and reduced health-care costs."

As part of the provincial government's commitment to citizen engagement, New Brunswickers are encouraged to read and comment on the recommendations in the report, now posted on the department's website. The department will meet with stakeholders to receive their feedback. In addition, the New Brunswick Health Council is conducting a comprehensive survey of New Brunswickers about their primary health-care experiences.

All of the feedback gathered will be discussed at a major health summit to be hosted by the Department of Health this fall.


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