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Policy Information

Primary Care

Published: 25 July 2019
From: Department of Health


Most people in Ireland never have to go to hospital but most people in Ireland will have used primary care. Primary care is all of the health or social care services that you can find in your community, outside of hospital. It includes general practitioners (GPs), public health nurses and a range of services.

The government's core objective for primary care is to shift most people’s care to the community. This will help reduce waiting lists and waiting times.

Primary Care

Primary care should be the first point of contact that people have with the health service. As the government implements the Sláintecare strategy in the years ahead, patients will be referred from primary care to hospital only when they have complex needs. The emphasis will be on supporting people to live independently in their own communities for as long as possible.

The starting point for primary care is the primary care team. These teams include GPs, public health nurses, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Each team supports around 7,000 – 10,000 people. They operate alongside wider community network services that include dental care, hearing specialists and psychology services.

Read more about primary care services and find your local service.

Primary Care Centres

Primary care centres are modern, purpose-designed buildings that provide a single location for a primary care team to work from. They have a key role in delivering a reformed health service.

The development of primary care centres is an important part of Sláintecare.

Primary care centres provide a single point of access to health services. They offer an ideal alternative to hospitals for the management of many aspects of care for long-term conditions like diabetes, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Primary care centres and other community facilities can also be developed to support access to diagnostics and to provide minor surgery.

The government is committed to continued investment in the development of primary care centres across the country.

Learn more about the delivery of primary care centres nationwide.

Cannabis for Medical Use

The following information is for healthcare professionals, patients and others who are interested in finding out more about cannabis for medical use. It will discuss current and proposed access to potential cannabis treatment and describe the legal and policy status of cannabis. It also describes the Minister for Health’s role in relation to access to cannabis for medical use, as provided for in the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977-2016 and in line with expert clinical and scientific advice.

It is important to note that cannabis and cannabis-based products which do not have a marketing authorisation have not been subjected to the same rigorous safety, quality and efficacy standards that are in place for medicines, nor are the producers of such cannabis-based products subject to the same responsibilities as the marketing authorisation holders for authorised medicines.

This information refers only to cannabis for medical use. Other matters related to cannabis including recreational use, decriminalisation, non-medical research, manufacturing, growing/producing cannabis or any other cannabis-related matters should be considered separate and distinct from the information below.

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