What are Primary Care Networks?
Primary Care Networks are a new way for several general practices to collaborate. The are intended to help practices:
To offer more co-ordinated clinics
To provide better ways for patient to access a wider range of health care professionals
In July 2019 we joined the Leek & Biddulph PCN, forming a group of five practices which includes:
- 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 service 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 & 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 Link Worker. Some practices already have these professionals working in their 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 co-ordinated 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 practices outside of core hours including weekends and evenings.
How can patients have a say in any planned changes?
In the Leek & 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 have a Patient Participation Group and these details can be found on our website or leaflets at the reception desk.