Primary care includes health promotion, disease prevention, health maintenance
Primary care is the day-to-day healthcare given by a health care provider. Typically this provider acts as the first contact and principal point of continuing care for patients within a healthcare system, and coordinates other specialist care that the patient may need. Patients commonly receive primary care from professionals such as a primary care physician (general practitioner or family physician), a nurse practitioner (adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, or pediatric nurse practitioner), or a physician assistant. In some localities, such a professional may be a registered nurse, a pharmacist, a clinical officer (as in parts of Africa), or an Ayurvedic or other traditional medicine professional (as in parts of Asia). Depending on the nature of the health condition, patients may then be referred for secondary or tertiary care.
The World Health Organization attributes the provision of essential primary care as an integral component of an inclusive primary healthcare strategy. Primary care involves the widest scope of healthcare, including all ages of patients, patients of all socioeconomic and geographic origins, patients seeking to maintain optimal health, and patients with all manner of acute and chronic physical, mental and social health issues, including multiple chronic diseases. Consequently, a primary care practitioner must possess a wide breadth of knowledge in many areas. Continuity is a key characteristic of primary care, as patients usually prefer to consult the same practitioner for routine check-ups and preventive care, health education, and every time they require an initial consultation about a new health problem. Collaboration among providers is a desirable characteristic of primary care.
In context of global population ageing, with increasing numbers of older adults at greater risk of chronic non-communicable diseases, rapidly increasing demand for primary care services is expected around the world, in both developed and developing countries.
In Nigeria, healthcare is a concurrent responsibility of three tiers of government. Local governments focus on the delivery of primary care (e.g. through a system of dispensaries), state governments manage the various general hospitals (secondary care), while the federal government's role is mostly limited to coordinating the affairs of the Federal Medical Centres and university teaching hospitals (tertiary care).
Since 2007, only General Practitioners, doctors undergoing specialization in family medicine, and doctors who have previously acquired the right to create an active list due to seniority in POZ before 2007 can be doctors creating active primary care lists. The currently pending proposals of the Ministry of Health, granting the right to create an active list to internists and pediatricians without experience of working in primary care, met with severe criticism of all family medicine organizations.
In the United Kingdom, patients can access primary care services through their local general practice, community pharmacy, optometrist, dental surgery and community hearing care providers. Services are generally provided free-of-charge through the National Health Service. In the UK, unlike many other countries, patients do not normally have direct access to hospital consultants and the GP controls access to secondary care.
Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Education