The enhancement of primary healthcare has been a core strategy for the empowerment of the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS). Recent guidelines issued by OPAS and the Ministry of Health highlight the role it has played as a thematic communication network center, a regulating agent for the access and use of services required for comprehensive healthcare. Sponsored by PPSUS/Fapesp, this study examines the possibilities of the primary healthcare network exercising such a strategic function. Life narratives involving 15 regular users were produced in two cities of ABC Paulista, which have adopted the Family Health Strategy for the organization of their primary healthcare networks. The study presents three main findings: the primary healthcare network serves as an outpost of SUS by producing user values even for high complexity service users; the primary network is perceived is a place for simple care needs; there is shared impotence between users and teams when it comes to the network functioning as the coordinator of care, indicating that it does not possess the technological, operational and organizational material conditions or symbolic conditions (values, meanings, and representations) to be in a central position in the coordination of thematic healthcare networks.
Primary healthcare; Access; Thematic healthcare networks; Coordination of care