What is the difference between Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Care?

In the UK there are three levels of healthcare – primary, secondary, and tertiary. MCG Healthcare offers a wide variety of opportunities to primary and secondary healthcare professionals, including salaried GPs, locum GPs, nurses, and care home staff. It is important to know what each level of healthcare entails and what job opportunities are available within the primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare sectors. This article aims to clarify any questions and uncertainties about the difference between these levels.  

Primary Care 

Primary care is the first level of healthcare patients receive and covers all essential healthcare. In the UK, primary care providers are typically general practitioners (GPs), practice nurses, home care providers and pharmacists. Primary care providers are often the first point of contact for patients when they have medical needs or concerns, such as illness or injury. Illness takes patients to their local GP when they develop symptoms or feel unwell. Patients may seek primary care for a broken bone, sore muscles, rashes, or any acute medical problem. Referral in primary care is all about coordinating the care you need among specialists and the other levels of care. 

MCG Healthcare offer a robust range of primary care jobs across England. Some of the roles we recruit for include locum GPs, salaried GPs, registered nurses, care home staff and much more. 

Secondary Care 

Patients most commonly receive secondary care when their primary care providers refer them to the hospital to see a specialist or a healthcare professional who has more specific expertise in the health issues they are facing. Specialists in the secondary care level focus on specific systems of the body, particular conditions, or diseases. Common specialists in the secondary care level include cardiologists, oncologists, mental health practitioners, endocrinologists, and other specified qualifications.  

The secondary healthcare jobs MCG Healthcare offer include A&E nurses, theatre nurses, learning disability nurses, mental health nurses, ITU nurses and several others. 

Tertiary Care 

Tertiary care is often prescribed to hospitalised patients, patients with chronic conditions and patients with severe diseases. Tertiary care requires highly specialised and specific equipment and expertise. Procedures that patients receive in tertiary care include coronary artery bypass surgery, plastic surgeries, severe burn treatments, dialysis, neurosurgeries, and other complex treatments. A small local hospital may be unable to provide certain tertiary care services, and patients may often have to go to facilities that offer advanced care.  

Within the UK, the levels of care relate to many different requirements and criteria such as the severity of conditions, required treatments and specialisations, qualification of the healthcare worker and many other important factors. Primary care involves patients’ primary healthcare providers, secondary care deals with specialists and tertiary care is a higher level of specialised care within a hospital. Knowing these levels of healthcare is important for anyone looking to work in the healthcare industry. 

MCG Healthcare offers positions to primary and secondary healthcare workers across England, including GPs and nurses. To find the perfect healthcare position for you, check out our latest jobs or contact us today. 

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