Urgent & primary care
An Urgent and Primary Care Centre (UPCC) is the place you can go to get same-day care for urgent and non-life threatening health concerns.
Urgent care is not emergency care.
For life-threatening health concerns, call 9-1-1 or go the emergency department immediately.
Your family doctor or nurse practitioner knows your health-care needs the best. Try to see them first and if you cannot see them, visit a UPCC for conditions that need attention within 12 to 24 hours.
Unlike at walk-in clinics, patients are seen in order of urgency by a family doctor, nurse practitioner, registered nurse or social worker.
Services at UPCCs are available in multiple languages.
Before you visit
- Check the hours of operation of the UPCC location you want to vsit. Find the UPCC near you.
- Check approximate wait times at EDWaitTimes.ca.
- Bring your BC Services card if you have one.
Care providers will also assess your ongoing health care needs and help connect you with the appropriate services, at the UPCC or in the community.
Additional health care resources
- Register at HealthLinkBC.ca for a family doctor or nurse practitioner if you do not have one.
- Call 8-1-1 to speak with a nurse any time or day.
- Visit vch.ca/MentalHealth for mental health and substance use services.
- Visit SeeYourPharmacist.ca for prescription refills and treatment for contraceptives and minor ailments such as: allergies, cold sores, mild acne, pink eye and urinary tract infections.
When to visit a UPCC
- Sprains and strains
- Cuts, wounds or skin conditions
- High fever
- Nausea, diarrhea and constipation
- New or worsening pain
- Mental health concerns such as low mood, anxiety and depression
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I visit my family doctor or nurse practitioner?
For health concerns, including referrals and prescription renewals, the best option is to call your primary care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner) first. Same-day urgent appointments are often available.
If you do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner, here are some suggestions and options to find a family doctor in your community:
- College of Physician and Surgeons of BC - Physician Directory
- Divisions of Family Practice Choose your local division. Many divisions offer a service to connect patients to a family doctor.
- HealthLink BC Call 8-1-1 (If you are hearing impaired, call 7-1-1) for a free, 24-hour telephone service, staffed by registered nurses, pharmacists and dieticians. HealthLink BC will work with you to determine if there is a physician attachment service in your community.
- Ask your family or friends to introduce you to their own family doctor. Sometimes a doctor may take you on as a referral from an existing patient.
- If you are visiting another health care provider, such as a specialist, ask them if they know of any family doctors that are accepting patients.
- If you are visiting a walk-in clinic, ask the doctor if they would be willing to take you on as a patient.
When to go to an Urgent & Primary Care Centre
Urgent and Primary Care Centres (UPCC) provide patient-centred care by a team of health care providers, including family doctors, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers and clerical staff.
They are for people who have an urgent but non-life threatening injury and/or illness, and need to be seen by a doctor or nurse practitioner within 12-24 hours. Some examples of injuries/illnesses that may be treated at a UPCC are: sprains and strains, high fever, worsening chronic disease, minor infections, and new or worsening pain.
UPCCs provide team-based, everyday health care. They provide urgent care when you are unable to see your family doctor or nurse practitioner and your injury/illness does not require emergency attention. Please visit an Emergency Department if you have a critical or life-threatening condition.
When to go to an Emergency Department
Go to an Emergency Department for critical or life-threatening conditions or mental health emergencies. Our emergency departments provide the highest level of care for medical issues such as:
- Involvement in a major accident
- Trouble breathing or catching your breath
- Severe abdominal or chest pain/pressure
- Signs of stroke, for example facial droop, arm weakness or slurred speech
- Loss of consciousness
- Uncontrolled bleeding
Your loved one may need emergency mental health care if they are:
- At risk of or are threatening to seriously harm themselves or others. You can also access crisis intervention and suicide prevention services.
- Seeing or hearing things.
- Believing things that are not true.
- Unable to care for themselves such as not eating, sleeping, bathing, getting out of bed or dressing.
- Still having trouble with symptoms even after they tried treatment with therapy, medication and support.
Wait times can vary depending on time, location and your level of need. People are seen in the Emergency Department based on how hurt or sick they are, which means the sickest people are seen first even if you've arrived before them. Many of Vancouver Coastal Health’s hospital sites provide 24-hour emergency services, however operating hours may vary. Call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to verify hours of operation for emergency services. View current Emergency Department wait times.