Family doctors are on the front line of healthcare provision. We report to family doctors first when something ails us. They provide referrals to tests and, if necessary, send us to specialists.

Family doctors, or specialists in family medicine, also called primary care physicians, provide services within the framework of primary healthcare (PHC). Any insured person has the right to their care.

Although a general practitioner, internist or paediatrician can also be a PHC doctor, it is usually the function of family doctors.

Selecting and changing your doctor

The patient should choose one doctor under whose care (s)he will be within the PHC. For this purpose, one must fill in a special declaration.

Zoning is not applicable when choosing, therefore you do not need to use the services of the clinic closest to your place of residence.

A primary care physician cannot refuse anyone to sign up for the list of his/her patients. The only restrictions are limits on the number of patients per doctor - now the limit is 2,750 people.

Patients have the right to change their primary care physicians twice a year. In the event of any subsequent change, one must pay a fee of PLN 80. This does not apply when a change is forced by factors unrelated to the patients.

When changing the doctor, be sure to transfer your medical records to the new provider. The clinic is required to give out a copy or duplicates of the documentation but the related costs are borne by the patient.

When to go to your primary care physician for advice

Primary care physicians decide about the diagnosis, treatment methods, referring patients to specialist clinics and covering them by hospital treatment.

Primary care physicians can be visited in PHC clinic hours, which is usually from Monday to Friday from 8 to 18, with the exception of public holidays.

Visits are provided in clinics or - in cases justified by medical circumstances – as home visits.

In emergencies, sudden illnesses and acute diseases advice is given on the spot, while in chronic conditions, in cases of continued treatment and when the visit is not dictated by the need to receive medical treatment (for example, arises from the need to repeat a course of medications), it is held at the time agreed with the patient.

The scope of care provided by primary care physicians

Tests prescribed by a primary care physician can be performed free of charge, on the basis of a referral and only in a designated laboratory. Primary care physicians can also issue a referral for a colonoscopy and gastroscopy. In this case, patients can choose any medical centre which has a contract with NFZ.

The duties of primary care physicians also include requesting for health resort treatment, as well as some orthopaedic items and aids.

Primary care physicians are also responsible for carrying out vaccinations and comprehensive tests.

Primary care physicians may issue a prescription for medication prescribed by a specialist on the basis of written information from the doctor on the patient's diagnosis and prescribed pharmacotherapy.

Primary care physicians also issue statements and medical certificates given on request of the insured person. These are related e.g. to further treatment, inability to work, continuation of learning, participation of children in organised sports and recreation. These certificates are also issued for social welfare centres or to obtain attendance allowance.

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