The benefits of signing up to the Primary Care Network DES

Harnessing Technology

Working on plans with ambitious Primary Care Networks our sense is the benefits outweigh the downsides

At SCW we have continued to work with and support Primary Care Networks (PCN) throughout the challenging times with Covid-19. As deadlines approached, it was easy to feel overwhelmed and make knee jerk decisions; however, this is why many practices have worked with our Primary Care Transformation Team through online facilitated workshops.  Those workshops enabled the Practices to take the time to consider what the future looks like and whether being part of a PCN is right for them.  

In the sessions we run, the focus has been on the Practice business plans for the next 4 years and beyond. Does being part of a PCN make that easier to achieve? Would the PCN potentially make it easier to recruit and retain a team? Conversely, is the plan easier accomplished outside of a PCN?   

These questions are as pertinent now as they were before – what is your vision, how has the vision for your PCN been impacted by changes in your membership, what new ways of working do you want to hold onto and how do you make them stick? 

Within our work we have many good examples of people and practices making the best of the opportunity that PCNs offer, building a compelling vision for the future is part of the workshop support.  Sharing workforce to tackle the workload is often to the fore in the early developments. Building relationships with the wider stakeholders and other providers to ensure joined up multi-disciplinary team approaches is another area we often find ourselves working with. The key is that everything is bespoke and built for each client individually, nothing comes pre-planned and off the shelf.  

We can of course see lots of benefits and opportunities for Practices in signing the PCN DES, including the ability to address workforce and workload issues, through employment of the additional roles. The PCN provides a voice for those involved in the provision of out of hospital care in shaping the future locally, based upon local needs and community assets. Developing projects that positively impact both the workload and the workforce have also featured heavily in the recognised benefits, where anything proposed must positively impact both.  We have worked with Clinical Directors to build on the collaborations seen in the Covid-19 response, where many want to continue the new working relationships, building upon these and enhancing the outcomes for member practices within the PCN.  

We sense this is why we already see success within the PCNs we support. It may also explain why we find ourselves working with a small number of PCNs where they are in the process of merging to be one PCN with one Practice. The long term vision for these practices is to be a more attractive and sustainable model to work in through the benefits of scale. Our role is to facilitate sessions to identify a clear, compelling and personalised vision of a self-sufficient, strong, resilient and independent model for the short to medium term.  

At SCW we have been involved in supporting the development of some very ambitious PCNs with even more ambitious plans, which are already delivering for our clients. We are also certain within 12 to 18 months we will see some remarkable models emerge. Our sense is the benefits outweigh the downsides and we are confident in working with you we can demonstrate this to your advantage.  

The Primary Care Team in SCW continues to provide support and direction to Practices, Primary Care Networks and Federations in working to successfully implement new care models, develop connections and work collaboratively within Integrated Care System to realise the best possible outcomes for the population. For more information on our support packages, or if you have any questions, please email: alison.westmacott@nhs.net


Director of Primary Care