Primary health care provides the first point of contact in the health care system. In the NHS, the main source of primary health care is general practice.
The aim is to provide an easily accessible route to care, whatever the patient’s problem. Primary health care is based on caring for people rather than specific diseases. This means that professionals working in primary care are generalists, dealing with a broad range of physical, psychological and social problems, rather than specialists in any particular disease area.
An important role is acting as the patient’s advocate and co-ordinating the care of the many people who have multiple health problems. Since primary care practitioners often care for people over extended periods of time, the relationship between patient and doctor is particularly important. Primary health care involves providing treatment for common illnesses, the management of long term illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease and the prevention of future ill-health through advice, immunisation and screening programmes.