Key points

  • Primary care practitioners are the cornerstone of any health system. They have a role in prevention, diagnosis, patient engagement and supported self-management, treatment and palliation.

  • There is currently an unacceptable level of variation in access to primary care between European countries. Priorities should include an adequate supply of, and ready access to, primary care practitioners who diagnose and treat disease early and refer effectively to appropriate specialists.

  • Primary care practitioners can play important roles in smoking-cessation strategies, reducing exposure to tobacco and indoor smoke during maternity and in newborns, improving children’s health, reducing adult asthma exacerbations and providing holistic care for patients with COPD.

  • Primary care offers a cost-effective and appropriate way to address the global burden of chronic respiratory disease. Its potential is constrained, however, by national health policies that do not recognise its strengths.

See the entire Primary care practitioners Chapter