Primary care is an individual’s most frequent point of contact with the NHS. Its influence on population outcomes and the function of the wider health and social care system cannot be overstated. This National Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy for Primary Care sets out the Scottish Government’s approach to ‘telling the story’, through research and analysis, of the changes we are seeking to deliver through the reform of primary care in Scotland over the next 10 years. It will help to ensure that we understand what works, where, for whom and why, and at scale, and have the evidence needed to shape sustainable policy and service developments. We also need to better understand how primary care contributes, across the wider health and social care system, to equality of outcome and access in Scottish society, to ensuring our communities thrive, and to delivering public value.
The research, data collection and analysis activity which will deliver the intentions of this long-term strategy will focus on primary care service redesign and reform policies. This activity will acknowledge the interdependencies between primary and secondary care, social care, community resources and services, and public health, while maintaining an emphasis on work designed to reshape primary and community care.
The definition below, from professional bodies representing clinical staff, offers a useful perspective on what primary care means. Clearly, however, delivering high quality services to meet outcomes for individuals, communities and organisations requires the combined inputs of many non-clinical workers. This includes management and administrative staff, social workers and social care workers, others who connect patients with public resources and assets (e.g. Community Links Workers), and those who provide unpaid care to family and friends. This understanding of the wider community of organisations and individuals who have a role and a stake in primary care will shape the research and analysis we undertake and commission to deliver this strategy.
Primary Care in Scotland: a definition from clinical professionals
“Most of the time, people use their own personal and community assets to manage their health and wellbeing and achieve the outcomes that matter to them. Primary care professionals enhance this by providing accessible health care and support to individuals and families in the community, when it is needed, at whatever stage of life “Primary care is provided by generalist health professionals, working together in multidisciplinary and multiagency networks across sectors, with access to the expertise of specialist colleagues. All primary care professionals work flexibly using local knowledge, clinical expertise and a continuously supportive and enabling relationship with the person to make shared decisions about their care and help them to manage their own health and wellbeing. Primary care is delivered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When people need urgent care out of core service hours, generalist primary care professionals provide support and advice which connects people to the services they need, in a crisis, in a timely way.”