What do you think of when someone asks you about primary care?

When we ask people what they think about primary care, often their first thought goes to their GP.

For many people, their GP will be their first point of contact with health care. But General Practices are one part of a wider primary care network. Primary care also includes care you receive at at walk-in centres, dental practices, community pharmacies and high street opticians.

In the UK, as in many other countries, primary care is our first point of contact with the wider health care system. It is the route by which we most commonly access other parts of the NHS, for example hospital care.

Based on many years of work, we know a lot about what makes good primary care. The best primary care is designed to meet the needs of people, rather than to treat individual diseases. It does this by providing accessible, continuous,coordinated, and comprehensive care.

Countries which have the best primary care have the most effective, efficient and equitable health care. In other words, we get better careĀ  for our resource; and the effects of care are distributed fairly across the population.

Primary care is changing and the health needs of our population are changing. We are living longer, and many of us spend a greater proportion of our lives living with long term health problems.Our population is expanding, and we are an increasingly diverse group of people. All this means our health needs are more complex. In addition, we are constantly discovering new ways to diagnose and treat health problems.

Health systems are having to adapt rapidly to changing needs. Some people are concerned that we are losing a focus on people and that this is contributing to growing inequality, ineffectiveness and inefficiencies in health care. That we need to think again about how our primary care services are developing.

There are lots of questions and challenges facing us all. Primary Care Hub seeks to support the stimulatiion of critical creative conversations between people to spark new ideas, consider how they fit with what has gone before, apply and test the ideas, and inspire others through sharing our findings.