What is primary healthcare?

Basically, when you go to the doctor - that's us. Primary healthcare is the care you receive in your community, usually from your general practitioner (GP) or practice nurse. Your GP leads a team of health professionals who work together to prevent you and your family from getting sick.

Our practices are known by lots of different names – medical centre, family doctor, family health centre, primary care practice or GP surgery – you probably just know it as “my doctor”.

At Pinnacle we use the phrase ‘practice’ to describe your medical centre and the primary healthcare team who work there – because these days your care involves more people than your doctor/GP. A modern practice will now have GPs working alongside nurse practitioners, practice nurses, medical centre assistants, primary care assistants and extended care team members such as dietitians, social workers, clinical pharmacists, exercise consultants, peer support workers and more!

For most people primary healthcare is where treatment starts and finishes. But if more specialist help is required (for example in hospital – also known as secondary care) that journey often starts with a referral from your GP, and your GP will be informed of the care you receive from others, and continue to care for you after the specialist has.

What is a primary care practice? Why join one?

Think of your practice as a central point for coordinating your healthcare. If you register with a practice, and stay with them over time then you will have a team of healthcare professionals get to know you and the issues or problems you and your family may face over time, rather than just the issue that brought you through the door that day.

Your practice will hold your medical record and have a thorough knowledge of your medical history. This helps to make sure you receive all regular checks, screenings and immunisations that are recommended for you such as flu shots and smear tests.

What is a general practitioner – or GP?

Your doctor is a GP, a general practitioner who is trained over many years. They are skilled at diagnosing a range of conditions, often from an early stage. They also know when and where to refer you for further tests or treatment should the need arise.

GPs will have a minimum of ten years of medical training. This means they can deal with whatever you may walk through the door with, from a sprained ankle to depression and everything in between! They also look after people all life stages, from infants to the elderly.

Many people will have a long-term relationship with their GP, which can help the GP to treat you holistically – taking into account your whole body, previous conditions and the environment you live and work in each day. However, all GPs are training to listen and observe, and are able to pick up symptoms and things you may not have yourself, or may not have felt ready to speak about.