What are primary care networks?
Primary Care Networks are a new way for several general practices to collaborate. They are intended to help practices:
- to offer more co-ordinated services,
- to provide better ways for patients to access a wider range of health care professionals.
In July 2019, we joined the Leek and Biddulph PCN, forming a group of five practices which include:
- Biddulph Valley Surgery
- Leek Health Centre
- Moorland Medical Centre
- Park Medical Centre.
Why are they being set-up?
In January 2019 NHS England published a 10-year plan for the NHS. It is designed to tackle 3 key issues. These are:
- Limits to the amount of funding
- Shortages of clinical staff, especially GPs
- Growing pressures from an increasing and ageing population.
Practices will work together and will, with other health services providers make patient care more co-ordinated and easier to access, whilst making the GP workload sustainable.
What is happening in 2019/2020?
The Leek and Biddulph PCN came into existence in July 2019, a clinical lead (Director) was elected, this is Dr Neil Briscoe. The two main objectives this year for the PCN will be to form relationships with local community healthcare providers, and recruit two new members of staff for the PCN. Specifically these roles are for a Clinical Pharmacist and a Social Prescribing Linkworker. Some practices already have these professionals working in the surgery, but these services will now be available in all practices.
What is planned for the next few years?
From April 2020 Funding for additional types of health professionals will be made available to all PCNs, this will include Physiotherapists and Physician Associates (a new clinical role) and from 2021 Community Paramedics.
The NHS Long Term Plan also outlines some specific areas on which networks will be asked to focus. In 2020 they will be asked to work as a network on providing improved services to care homes, better early cancer diagnosis, and more coordinated care with other community services.
How will these changes affect you?
You may not notice much change during 2019, especially in practices that already provide clinical pharmacist and/or social prescribing services. As we develop we anticipate you will experience easier access to the most appropriate healthcare professional. There will also be appointments available across the member practice outside of core hours including weekends and evenings.
How can patients have a say in any planned changes?
In the Leek and Biddulph PCN we are keen to involve our patients in the network development, in the first instance we would encourage you to liaise with your practice Patient Participation Group. Every practice has to have a Patient Participation Group and these details can be found on our member practices’ individual websites. Your own practice manager should also be able to tell you about how our group operates.