I believe, as do my colleagues Ben Stewart and Steve Thomson, there is a need for a clinic that deals with chronic pain in the Interior.

I also believe the members of our Health Authority Board understand that despite the great investments and increases in health services delivered in our area, chronic pain service needs to be improved.

Interior Health CEO Dr. Robert Halpenny says Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) is developing interim solutions for a more comprehensive chronic pain management service, including the necessary equipment. He also says KGH will be able to meet increased patient care needs with the new ambulatory care building. As KGH works on interim improvements to meet increasing clinical needs, Interior Health (IHA) is reviewing its chronic pain services for the entire interior.

As with any new program the challenge will be finding the funds to deliver the service. Next year (2012/13) IHA will receive approximately $1.46 billion from provincial taxpayers. This is roughly 76 per cent more than 11 years ago (2001/02) when IHA first came into existence and $77 million more than last year but costs continue to rise and there is a long list of other service priorities that the IHA board must review and then prioritize.

We need to make progress on helping people stay healthy, managing chronic care issues, improving access to primary care and specialists, reducing wait times, getting patients out of hospital hallways and into the community with adequate support to avoid readmission, and work on a host of other Health-related issues. We are making progress but we have more work to do.

B.C. is frequently named the best health system in the country and we will strive to keep improving. As part of a great team of local MLAs, we will continue to work with IHA to prioritize the needs of our community – and through the work of some great health professionals, support staff, and volunteers – deliver the best health care we can afford.

Norm Letnick, MLA Kelowna-Lake Country Chair, Select Standing Committee on Health for B.C.