However effective we are in helping people start out and keep well, there will always be occasions when people will need care. The NHS is there to provide such care and this is an important part of the way in which ill-health and premature death can be reduced.

Health care is often considered within the context of a tiered approach, with primary, secondary and tertiary care. Most people are familiar with primary care services through the general medical practitioners, nurses and therapists that form their primary care teams. Terms like secondary care or tertiary care are less familiar to people, partly because they are more used to terms such as hospital care or long term care and partly because the boundaries between secondary and tertiary care are less easy to see.

In this chapter, aspects of primary, secondary and tertiary care are explored. Clearly, given the potential scope of such tiers of care, it has been necessary to be selective. Each area selected is important in the context of how services in NHS Lothian are used to improve heath. They show how we meet the challenges that need to be met in helping people get well and stay well.