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Primary care

Primary care encompasses all healthcare taking place outside acute and mental health trusts.


Primary care is the cornerstone of the NHS: each year in England alone there are approximately 300 million consultations in general practice with nearly 800 million prescriptions dispensed in the community.


Primary care is a multidisciplinary aspect of healthcare with a whole range of professionals contributing to the care of individual patients. Many patients are seen in their own homes by a variety of community services, and larger numbers of complex procedures and interventions are now taking place in the primary care setting.


The level of reporting of patient safety incidents to the NRLS from the primary care sector is low in comparison to acute/secondary care. The NRLS is working with NHS primary care organisations, healthcare staff and professional bodies to encourage reporting of incidents from this sector. Increased reporting will enable the identification of risks and the development of actionable learning for this sector.


The National Reporting and Learning Service (NRLS) is committed to promoting safe practice in primary care, and has issued guidance for primary care on a variety of topics (listed below).


The Seven steps to patient safety for primary care is a best practice guide that describes the key activities that primary care organisations and teams can undertake in order to safeguard the patients they care for.


Resources relating to primary care are listed below.