Collaborative general practice in England

The opening promise of the NHS Long Term Plan is to “boost out-of-hospital” care and finally dissolve the historic divide between primary medical and community-based services. Primary care networks (PCNs) are the building blocks and foundations to achieve this promise. GPs have been working at scale for some time in local areas mostly in more informal ways.  The new GP contractthat launched on 1 July 2019 aims to turn primary care networks into a more formal arrangement across England. 

Primary care networks build on the core of current primary care services and enable greater provision of proactive, personalised, coordinated and more integrated health and social care. A primary care network consists of groups of general practices working together with a range of local providers, including across primary care, community services, social care and the voluntary sector, to offer more personalised, coordinated health and social care to their local populations. Networks would normally be based around natural local communities typically serving populations of at least 30,000 people.

The RCGP supports the development of collaborative primary care networks to improve patient outcomes, reduce the current pressures faced by individual practices and improve the working environment for primary care teams. An expert team of clinical and practice advisers including GPs, nurses and practice managers, have extensive experience of working with individual practices and at-scale organisations to develop leadership and support organisational change.

Primary care networks timelines

Primary Care Networks – Additional Resources

The RCGP recently hosted a webinar to explore the learnings from four GPs, which is now freely available and to access in three short videos exploring: 

  • How recently qualified GP with no leadership experience or training, Dr Tom Rustom, is learning to lead a PCN. Tom highlights the resources he is drawing on and provides an honest insight into the challenges and personal benefits of his role
  • Leadership, co-clinical directorship and rural working with experienced system leader, Dr Ben Milton. Ben discusses how he uses his experience as a leader to work with his co-clinical director, a local nurse, to establish their PCN. He also discusses new models of social prescribing being implemented in Derbyshire to overcome the challenges of rural working.
  • Population health management with Dr Steve Laitner and Dr Tayo Kufeji (link), sharing how using a population health matrix developed by Steve and the NAPC helps Tayo and his colleagues to analyse and understand population health data and work  with colleagues in the community to determine what the real population needs are.

This is a a list of resources to answer the most frequently asked questions that we have received around PCNs: 

  • Contractual Guidance
  • Quality Improvement 
  • General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • At Scale Providers and PCNs (Federations, Super partnerships)
  • Clinical Pharmacists
  • Social Prescribing

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