FACT CHECK: Minister of Health makes misleading statements about existence of primary health care teams

FACT CHECK: Minister of Health makes misleading statements about existence of primary health care teams

The NLMA is again calling out Health Minister John Haggie for making misleading statements to the public.

Earlier this week, the NLMA advised that the Minister of Health has built team projects that are focused on single issues, disconnected from family medicine. The Minister has falsely claimed these are primary health care teams. They are not. These team projects lack integration with family medicine practices. There is currently no program that enables family doctors to bring their patients into primary health care teams or a mechanism to integrate registered nurses or nurse practitioners into their practices.

In an interview with The Telegram, published on July 31, Minister Haggie responded that he would not accept the NLMA’s argument. He stated:

“I would not accept the premise of that. We have family health networks set up through the family practice renewal committee. They are instrumental locally in having needs-based meetings. These are run by local groups of family practitioners. There was a very successful one before COVID based in Eastport in the Central Region,” said Minister Haggie.

These Family Practice Networks the Minister is referring to provide a means for a group of physicians in a particular region to come together to discuss and address common practice issues and patient needs with their Regional Health Authority. There are currently four Family Practice Networks comprised of more than 360 family physicians across the province. While these networks serve a very important and valuable function, they are not primary health care teams as the Minister of Health suggests. They to do not provide care to patients.

Furthermore, there is no Family Practice Network in Eastport. The Executive Director of the Family Practice Network based in Central does live in Eastport and there was an annual meeting held there last September. However, there are currently no physicians living or providing care to patients in Eastport.

The NLMA can no longer continue to ignore these misleading statements to the public. The people of this province deserve to know what is really happening with family medicine. The Minister continues to deflect the real issues facing family medicine in this province, which is chronically under-resourced, lacks true integration of virtual care and does not support team-based care.