The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care hosted a webinar on Feb. 27 about the progress on the Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care outlining the major areas of implementation focus for this work since the passing of the Patients First Act. Facilitated by Dr. Bob Bell, Deputy Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Nancy Naylor, Associate Deputy Minister, Delivery and Implementation, the key message of this webinar was that the Patients First Act and Action Plan is being implemented across Ontario with the purpose of ensuring a more integrated and coordinated health care system for the province. The facilitators noted that the number one priority through the implementation efforts will be patient care, indicating that uninterrupted services are of upmost importance to the Ministry through the transitional periods of work.
The importance of better integrating primary care with other sectors, including a specific mention of community mental health and addictions, was discussed in the presentation as a major goal of this Action Plan. The speakers also talked about the recent funding announcement from the Ministry regarding housing, psychotherapy, and youth services for Ontario, noting that the allocation of these funds will take place in the new sub-region context. Sub-regions have been established within all 14 health planning regions of the province and will serve as focal points for system planning in an effort to meet patient needs in a more localized way.
This webinar provided an overview of four major areas of health care system transformation implementation underway, including:
- Establishment and formalized boundaries of sub-regions within each Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) across Ontario which will promote more localized service planning. Existing relationships between Ontarians and their health care service providers will not be interrupted with the introduction of the new sub regions.
- Development of new LHIN organizational structures that will reflect their new roles with their expanded mandate through the Patients First Act that includes the provision of home and community care services.
- Creation of a new crown agency, Health Shared Services Ontario, which has combined three organizations (Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres; LHIN Collaborative or LHINC; LHIN Shared Services Office) into one agency coming into effect on March 1.
- Assessment of capacity and readiness of the LHNs to transfer the Community Care Access Centres under their operations through the spring and summer.
For weekly updates on the progress of Patients First, you can request to be part of the Ministry’s malling list by emailing PatientsFirst@ontario.ca The Ministry also invited health service providers to send their experiences and stories of how Patients First implementation is happening at a local level to this email address.