Defining primary care sensitive conditions: a necessity for effective primary care delivery?

J R Soc Med. 2012 Oct;105(10):422-8. doi: 10.1258/jrsm.2012.120178.


Primary care is a major component of England's National Health Service (NHS), responsible for approximately 300 million consultations per year with GPs in England, which represents 70-90% of all patient contacts with the NHS. In addition to providing healthcare to the registered population, GPs are charged with coordination and gatekeeping of access to services provided by secondary care, tertiary care and other allied healthcare providers. As GPs will be assuming a key role in commissioning health services in England, there is a clear opportunity to re-model care delivery to maximize outcomes, cost efficiency and patient access by focusing on diseases that are most amenable to management in primary care. It is essential that there is evidence to inform what conditions are most sensitive to management in primary care - commonly referred to as primary care sensitive conditions or ambulatory care sensitive conditions. Such definitions would aid resource planning, drafting of local management protocols and simplification of the interface between primary and secondary care for a number of chronic conditions. Indeed, inappropriate utilization of secondary care resources is likely to represent a significant opportunity cost to healthcare providers and may be less desirable for patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Disease Management*
  • England
  • Health Services*
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Secondary Care
  • State Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Tertiary Healthcare