Primary Care - A New Direction

Minister for Health and Children's Foreword

Picture of Minister Martin

It gives me great pleasure to launch this detailed account of primary care as a key component of the Government’s Health Strategy, Quality and Fairness: A Health System for You. It demonstrates the commitment of the Government and the Department of Health and Children to primary care as the first and on-going point of contact with the health and personal social services. This means dealing with health problems at the lowest level of complexity.

Many countries have now acknowledged that primary care should be the cornerstone of modern health services and the gatekeeper of specialist services. In so doing, they have prepared strategies that have highlighted the importance of a team-based approach to primary care. This is affirmed in the messages which emerged from the consultation process which identified the need for an enhancement in services delivered in the community. The Government plans to strengthen primary care so it can contribute further to the health of the population.

Primary Care: A New Direction acknowledges the central role of primary care in the future development of our health services and proposes the introduction of an inter-disciplinary team-based approach which will be introduced on a phased basis using existing infrastructure and encouraging the use of public-private partnerships where practical.

These changes will improve access for all to primary care services, especially out of hours, will improve links between primary and secondary care and will emphasise the importance of prevention of disease and health promotion. It will also help to make primary care a more satisfying and rewarding career by providing an environment in which each person and profession can maximise his/her contribution.

Primary Care: A New Direction will enable primary care to develop the capacity to meet the challenges with which it is faced such as ageing of the population, earlier hospital discharge, care in appropriate settings as well as the opportunities afforded through modern information and communications technology.

This is a comprehensive and ambitious Strategy which will provide a blueprint for the planning and development of primary care over the next 10 years. It will help to ensure the development of a primary care infrastructure and service of which we can be justifiably proud.

signature of Minister for Health and Children

Micheál Martin, T.D.
Minister for Health and Children