Primary Care Networks (PCNs) bring several benefits to both patients and practices:
- access a wider range of professionals and diagnostics in the community
- access different ways of getting advice and treatment, including digital, telephone-based and physical services, matched to their individual needs
- see an increased focus on prevention and personalised care
- see a wider range of services close to home
Practice staff will:
- experience a greater resilience by sharing resources, improved efficiency and smoothing out fluctuations in demand and capacity
- see a more sustainable work/life balance: more tasks routed directly to appropriate professionals
- experience more satisfying work: each professional focusing on the tasks they do best
- have greater influence on decisions made elsewhere in the health system
- be able to free up GP time to concentrate on patients with more complex needs
- have the opportunity to work more closely with other practices, especially GPs, having access to larger peer groups of clinicians, supporting their development and building greater resilience
- have access to better data about patient needs and outcomes.
The priorities of PCNs
From April 2020, PCNs are required to deliver three national service specifications:
- structured medication reviews
- enhanced health in care homes
- supporting early cancer diagnosis
To support the delivery of the national specifications, PCNs will have access to funding to employ specific clinical roles within their Networks. The Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme will fund 100% of specific clinical roles coming in over the period of the contract.
This team will support the workforce shortage in general practice and increasingly become involved in patient care. To ensure patients are seen as quickly as possible, it is important that they are matched with the most appropriate professional for their particular needs. When patients contact their practice, they will be advised about who is the most appropriate person for them to see.
- Clinical pharmacists: Who can make sure patients’ medications are right
- Social prescribing link workers: Who can help address non-clinical issues such as isolation
- Physiotherapists: Who help with recovery and mobility
- Pharmacy technicians: Who help patients get the best out of their medicines
- Physician associates: Who can take medical histories and blood pressures, complete insurance forms and explain treatments, freeing up the GP
- Health and wellbeing coaches: Who work alongside patients who may need additional support
- Care co-ordinators: Who are trained health professionals that help to manage a patient's care
- Dieticians: Who diagnose, treat and educate on dietary and nutritional problems
- Podiatrists: Who diagnose and treat conditions of the feet and lower limb
- Occupational therapists: Who can support with everyday activities which have become difficult
A key role of PCNs is to work in partnership with community healthcare, mental health, social care, hospital and voluntary services. This work has commenced through One Halton and the established Provider Alliance Board. This partnership joins health and care across Halton creating a local Integrated Care Partnership (ICP). Further information about One Halton can be viewed on the One Halton webpage.
For further information about Primary Care Networks:
- The PCN page on the NHS England website
- NHS England's PCN Frequently Asked Questions web page
- The short animation below which provides further detail about the development of PCNs nationally.