What we heard: Scope of practice for healthcare professionals, improving substance use and mental health care

What we heard: Scope of practice for healthcare professionals, improving substance use and mental health care

As part of our continued advocacy efforts, earlier this year Doctors of BC asked for your thoughts on three topics relevant to your job and the profession as a whole: scope of practice for healthcare professionals, substance use and mental health/ mental illness care. Your answers will help inform next steps on these matters and ensure that we are able to effectively defend on your behalf.

Scope of practice for healthcare professionals

We have been looking for your input on an update to the existing Doctors of BC policy statement on the scope of practice for healthcare professionals. Led by the Council on Health Economics and Policy (CHEP), this update aims to ensure that our policy stance reflects your needs and concerns.

While changes in practice are a necessary component of the move towards team-based care, we recognize they can have wider implications for patients, other healthcare professionals including physicians and the wider healthcare system. Making these changes requires careful consideration to ensure that health care system efficiency and patient safety are maintained.

We’ve asked for your feedback on a draft of a set of policy principles on scope extension. These principles are the foundation of our advocacy with stakeholders on this issue, reflecting key considerations to guide decision making and action.

  • Feedback indicated that all of the policy principles outlined for consideration were important.
  • Ensuring patient safety, establishing and evaluating cost-effectiveness, addressing unintended impacts of expansions (e.g. increased paperwork, administrative duties), and establishing adequate liability coverage for all parties in collaborative settings are been considered important.

Read the full What We Heard report for more details.

Treatment of substance use

Harmful substance use remains one of the most challenging public health crises in BC. While the provincial government and other partners have taken significant steps to address this problem, reducing the public health impact of harmful substance use remains an elusive goal, more needs to be done.

Doctors of BCs Council on Health Promotion (COHP) is developing a policy document designed to complement and modernize our position on substance use care, first developed and detailed in our 2009 policy document, Moving Ahead: Improving Addiction Care in BC.

We have been looking for your input to help us determine if we’re on the right track with our key recommendations; and to better understand today’s gaps in substance use education, resources, and other supports for clinicians.

  • 80% to 100% of respondents rated all proposed recommendations as important or very important.
  • The feedback also identified patients’ lack of access to appropriate care services as a critical issue and highlighted the value of creating a single unified referral network for physicians to connect patients to appropriate care services.

Read the full What We Heard report for more details.

Mental health care/mental illness

With the growing prevalence of mental health issues in BC, there is a growing demand for care and services to meet a diverse range of needs. COHP is in the preliminary stages of developing a policy statement that addresses the barriers and challenges of accessing mental health care and services in BC.

To better understand members’ clinical experience and perceptions of patients’ needs, we sought your input on five priority areas to inform where we will focus our policy and advocacy efforts.

  • Respondents strongly agree with our focus on the five priority areas identified.
  • They also noted barriers to access, including identifying cost of services and integration gaps as a top priority to address as they work to improve mental health care delivery in BC.

Read the full What We Heard report for more details.

We will continue to share more information as our policy develops on these topics, including future engagement with members to support it. If you have any questions, please contact

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