Primary Care Networks
The development of the Primary care network has come about from the growing population and increased demands as people are living longer with more 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, practices have begun working together to provide a wider range of services to patients and to more easily integrate with the wider health and care system; like community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local areas.
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.
Where emerging primary care networks are in place in parts of the country, there are clear benefits for patients and clinicians.
How are PCNs being formed?
A new extension to the GP contract was recently introduced in NHS England’s five -year framework for GP services: From 1st July 2019 the Network Contract will enable GP practices to play a leading role in every Primary care network (PCN)
Each PCN will bring together a group of neighbouring GP practices to cover a population of 30,000 patients plus. The networks are expected to provide support to member practices, benefiting from economies of scale as they collaborate to provide services and with an expanded primary care team .
The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a clear ambition to deliver ‘triple integration’ of primary and specialist care, physical and mental health services, and health with social care.
Network agreement and data sharing agreements
All PCNs will have a Network Agreement which sets out its collective rights and obligations as well as how it will partner with non-GP practice stakeholders. It will also include a patient data-sharing requirement, in order to support safe and effective delivery of patient care.
PCNs will work in an integrated way with other community staff and providers; collaboration arrangements with other local organisations will form a distinct part of the Network Agreement.