Issue Of Primary Health Care (Phc): A Discussion

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Issue of Primary Health Care (PHC): A Discussion

Issue of Primary Health Care (PHC): A Discussion


The term primary care has some conflicting interpretations. For the purposes of this book it is defined as the care provided to patients by the caregiver they consider to be the individual they are most likely to present to when they develop an illness or concern regarding their health care status. The term primary care first appeared in the literature in the early 1960s and appears to have been most often used within the context of the “primary care practitioner.” In more technical literature, however, it was often used to refer to the initial contact with the health care system, whether that actually was a physician or another service provider such as the emergency room in a hospital.

This paper critically discusses the issue of Primary Health Care (PHC) and how the role of the community nurse that could be expanded to meet the values, aims and objectives of PHC. This paper also includes social determinants of health, appropriate heath promotion, prevention and education aspects as appropriate.

Issue of Primary Health Care (PHC): A Discussion

The most frequent contact for Australians with a nurse could be with a practice nurse, especially if the trend to increasing prevalence and expanding scope of practice nurses continues. In Australia, the majority of health care is obtained by visiting a general practitioner (GP). It is estimated that 57% of general practices in Australia employ at least one practice nurse (Australian Divisions of General Practice 2006) and these rates have been steadily increasing by 15-17% per annum (Walker 2006). Therefore, the emerging role of practice nursing has a significant potential to contribute to the health and well-being of Australians. Coincidently, through being at the 'front-line' practice nurses are in a highly influential position to not only facilitate favourable outcomes but also influence public opinion about nursing.

The nurse theorist, Virginia Henderson, stated a truism in the mid-1900s, when declaring that 'nursing is modified by the era in which it is practiced' (Safier 2007: 121). Multiple era-specific influences have modified practice nursing and further modification is set to occur in a dynamic policy context. The rise of the primary health care movement is a key force in contemporary health care systems. The major purpose of this paper is to explore where practice nursing fits with the primary health care setting and exploring how this fit may impact upon the Australian population and the nursing profession. In order to inform this discussion it is important to clarify key concepts and terms.

Practice Nursing and Community Nursing

As stated by Walker (2006: 20), the term practice nurse refers to 'a nurse working and providing a nursing service in the general practice context'. The term is also used for this role in other countries, such as in the United Kingdom (UK) and New Zealand (NZ). However, the term 'general practice nurse' is also used in Australia (Watts et ...
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