European Commission publishes Opinion on Primary Care

Prof Jan de Maeseneer announces the report on primary care of the Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health of the European Commission.

On July 15, the Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health (EXPH), published an opinion on: "Definition of a frame of reference in relation to primary care with a special emphasis on the financing systems and referral systems".

The Expert Panel considers that primary care is the provision of universally accessible, integrated person-centered, comprehensive health and community services, provided by a team of professionals accountable for addressing a large majority of personal health needs. The services are delivered in a sustained partnership with patients and informal care givers, in the context of family and community, and play a central role in the overall coordination and continuity of people's care. The professionals active in primary care teams include, among others, dentists, dieticians, general practitioners/family physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, psychologists and social workers."

The Expert Panel studies the role of referral systems, and looks at different ways of remunerating primary care professionals. In the conclusion and recommendation, there is a strong plea for strengthening primary care, using appropriate referral systems and financing mechanism that enhance accessibility and quality. Questions for further research are defined.

A public consultation on the Opinion took place from March 20 to May 19 2014. Fifty-nine organizations and one individual participated and provided input to the opinion. In total 286 contributions were received. Also WONCA-Europe and EQUIP (European Society for Quality and Safety in Family Medicine) contributed to the public consultation.

The final version of the Opinion on Primary Care is available online or download here.
By the way, the Expert Panel is actually very active, as they published a new preliminary Opinion on Quality of Care and patient safety. This Opinion is open to Public Consultation until the September 21, 2014:

WONCA welcomes the interest for primary care that has been raised by this Opinion of the Expert Panel, that has been quoted in the editorial of The Lancet;2014(384):281:"Making primary care people-centered: a 21st century blueprint".