Caring for children with specialized health care needs in the community: the challenges for primary care
People needing intensive and specialized health care are being cared for now in community settings; this has implications for both primary health care professionals and family carers. This paper draws on research investigating how services can be developed to support families caring for children with complex health care needs, to consider the challenges facing professionals working in the primary health care sector. Interviews conducted with parents, professionals and those who fund and commission specialized health services reveal particular problems in relation to the purchasing and provision of short-term care and specialist equipment/therapies in the community. These problems need to be addressed if people with specialized needs are to be cared for outside hospitals. The new Primary Care Groups (PCGs) will have the opportunity to enhance the provision of these services. Primary care professionals will also need to work in partnership with other sectors of the health service and with local authority services, at both strategic and operational levels, to develop integrated and coordinated services for this growing group of people.