Specialized ambulatory medical services and commonplace hospital care (outpatient and inpatient services). Access is often via referral from primary health care services.
Care provided by medical specialists, usually in a hospital setting, but also some specialist services provided in the community. Does not include highly specialized, technical inpatient medical services (which is tertiary health care).
World Health Organization. European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. Glossary. 2009.
Hospitals and outpatient specialist clinics to which people go, after referral from primary health care services.
These services are generally more specialized; they often include a greater range of diagnostic services such as X-ray and pathological laboratory services; they may also include specialized treatment, such as operating theatres, radiotherapy, and certain drug therapies not normally available in primary care.
The principal difference between primary and secondary services is in the range and specialization of the staff.