Timely and appropriate access to primary health care is a key objective of Ontario’s Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care and the Central West LHIN’s fourth IHSP. While almost all (94%) of LHIN residents report having a regular primary care provider, just 57% report the ability to see a primary care provider on the same or next day when sick.
These indicators are particularly important for Central West LHIN’s population given the prevalence of certain chronic conditions and premature mortality. Between 2009 and 2013, the proportion of Central West LHIN residents with at least one chronic condition has decreased, and is significantly lower than the province. Prevalence has decreased for every chronic condition but Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The prevalence of COPD doubled in the Central West LHIN, while the Ontario rate stayed the same.
Many chronic conditions can be prevented or their onset delayed. Smoking, misuse of alcohol, excess weight, poor diet and physical inactivity are well established modifiable risk factors for many chronic conditions. Central West LHIN reports the lowest percentage of smokers (12%) and the second lowest proportion of heavy drinkers (12%) in the province. However, rates of obesity (56%) and physical inactivity (54%) are higher than Ontario.
In 2013/14, Central West LHIN residents made 285,888 visits to emergency departments (EDs) in Ontario, an increase of 15% over 2010/11. Most of these visits (73%) were to one of the three EDs within the Central West LHIN. At the same time, there were 244,979 ED visits to hospitals in the Central West LHIN, an increase of 18% since 2010/11. With 27% more visits annually than the next busiest site, Brampton Civic Hospital is home to the busiest Emergency Department (ED) in Canada. Central West LHIN hospitals had the lowest rate of visits best treated in alternative primary care settings (a 30% reduction since 2010/11), meaning that the very high number of ED visits are appropriate. ED length of stay for patients discharged home from Central West LHIN EDs consistently meets provincial targets. However, length of stay for patients requiring admission to an inpatient bed is substantially higher than target, suggesting a need for greater inpatient capacity.