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Primary care

Poor public understanding of primary care

The term “primary care” needs defining so the public understands its scope.

Almost half of people surveyed incorrectly believed accident and emergency departments are part of the primary care sector

Source: Pharmacy Voice

Almost half of people surveyed incorrectly believed accident and emergency departments are part of the primary care sector

The public has little understanding of what primary care involves, with only a third comprehending that community pharmacy is an integral part of the sector, a report has found.

The survey of more than 2,400 people is part of ’We are primary care’, a report published jointly by Pharmacy Voice, the NHS Alliance, the Optical Confederation and the National Community Hearing Association.

The findings reveal that while nearly three quarters of those surveyed know that general practice is part of primary care, almost half incorrectly believe accident and emergency departments are part of the sector. The report states that the term “primary care” needs defining so the general public understands that it can be used for all but the most serious of conditions and emergencies.

The paper points out that although around 80% of all contact with health services in the UK involves primary care, this burden is not reflected by funding distribution, an inequality, it says, needs to be addressed. The organisations also urge NHS England to work more closely with Public Health England to make every primary care contact count towards the goal of keeping people out of hospital, tackling health inequalities and recognising when people want to make changes in their lives to improve their health.

Pharmacy Voice chief executive, Rob Darracott, said: “We have to be radical in our thinking and our actions if the NHS is to survive in its current form.”

The report follows on from ‘Who Do You Think We Are?’, the paper published by the pharmacy organisation at the beginning of 2014 to mark the launch of the Dispensing Health campaign.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20065895

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