Since the NHS was created in 1948, the population has grown and people are living longer. Many people are living with long term conditions such as diabetes and heart disease or suffer with mental health issues and may need to access their local health services more often.
To meet these needs, GP practices are working together with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local areas in groups of practices known as primary care networks (PCNs).
PCNs build on existing primary care services and enable greater provision of proactive, personalised, coordinated and more integrated health and social care for people close to home. Clinicians describe this as a change from reactively providing appointments to proactively caring for the people and communities they serve.
Each of the 1,250 PCNs across England are based on GP registered patient lists, typically serving natural communities of between 30,000 to 50,000 people (with some flexibility). They are small enough to provide the personal care valued by both people and GPs, but large enough to have impact and economies of scale through better collaboration between GP practices and others in the local health and social care system.
PCNs are led by clinical directors who may be a GP, general practice nurse, clinical pharmacist or other clinical profession working in general practice.
Over 99% of general practices are part of a PCN, who sign up to the Network Contact DES which details their core requirements and entitlements.
Find out more through a collection of case studies from across the country where PCNs are working to make a difference to staff and patients.
Click here to view Practice and PCN Vacancies.
Clinical directors have a critical role in coordinating the work of a PCN and providing leadership as part of this new structure. Equipping them with the skills to lead and develop PCNs is crucial to realising the ambitions of improving health outcomes for communities
The PCN Manager will act as a point of expertise, coordinate the successful achievement of all governance requirements, translate national and local policy into meaningful changes, and will support practices to achieve improved outcomes for the local population.
A Primary Care Network (PCN) pharmacist works alongside a multidisciplinary diverse team of health care professionals in general practice and within the primary care network, providing primary support for prescription and medication queries.
A Physician Associate, or Physician Assistant supports Physicians with the diagnosis and management of patients in general practice. Their duties include working directly with patients to diagnose medical conditions, performing medical procedures and developing treatment plans.
Social Prescribing Link Workers (SPLWs) are a key part of the multidisciplinary team within primary care networks (PCN). SPLWs can provide more time and focus on ‘what matters to me’ and take a holistic approach to an individual’s health and wellbeing and empower them to take back control.
Working with other PCN-based roles, Mental Health Link Workers can address the potential range of biopsychosocial needs of patients with mental health problems, as part of a multi-disciplinary team.
They work closely with the GPs and other primary care colleagues within the primary care network (PCN) to identify and manage a caseload of identified patients.