The term ‘primary care’ is used relatively loosely in the NHS. It commonly refers to family doctors and their teams. However, it also refers to a wide array of professionals such as pharmacists and dentists, as well as to the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – that are responsible for overseeing local NHS services.
Primary care is typically the first contact for people seeking medical advice or treatment. The primary care system, particularly general practice, is under immense and increasing pressure. This is largely due to an ageing population and a greater number of people living with complex conditions, alongside the drive for more care to be delivered closer to home including prevention, screening, supported self-care, treatment, care management and rehabilitation.
As the NHS moves towards new models of care based around care closer to home, many activities previously undertaken in hospital settings are now being done in primary care.
However, this has not been matched by a proportional transfer in staff or funding leading to further pressures on the system.