With time, Primary Care Networks (PCNs) are expected to bring several benefits to both patients and practices:

Patients will:

  • access a wider range of professionals and diagnostics in the community
  • access different ways of getting advice and treatment, including digital, telephone-based and physical services, matched to their individual needs
  • see an increased focus on prevention and personalised care
  • see a wider range of services close to home.

Practice staff will: 

  • experience a greater resilience by sharing resources, improved efficiency and smoothing out fluctuations in demand and capacity
  • see a more sustainable work/life balance: more tasks routed directly to appropriate professionals
  • experience more satisfying work: each professional focusing on the tasks they do best
  • have greater influence on decisions made elsewhere in the health system
  • be able to free up GP time to concentrate on patients with more complex needs
  • have the opportunity to work more closely with other practices, especially GPs, having access to larger peer groups of clinicians, supporting their development and building greater resilience
  • have access to better data about patient needs and outcomes.

The future priorities of PCNs

During 2021, PCNs are required to deliver three national service specifications, these will be phased in over the duration of the year.

  • structured medication reviews
  • enhanced health in care homes
  • supporting early cancer diagnosis
  • extended hours access
  • seocial prescribing service
  • cardiovascular diease (CVD) prevention and diagnosis
  • tackling neighbourhood health inequalities

To support the delivery of the national specifications, PCNs will have access to funding to employ additional workforce for their Networks. The Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) will fund 100% of specific roles coming in over the period of the contract. The intention of the scheme is to grow additional workforce capacity through new roles, and by doing so, help to solve the workforce shortage in general practice.

From April 2020/21, each PCN will be allocated a single combined maximum sum under the scheme. Each PCN’s ARRS Sum will be based upon the PCN’s size of the population. 

PCNs will be able to recruit from a designated list of roles as they require to support delivery of the Network Contract DES: 

The roles include:

  • Clinical pharmacists: Who can make sure patients’ medications are right
  • Social prescribing link workers: Who can help address non-clinical issues such as isolation
  • Physiotherapists: Who help with recovery and mobility
  • Pharmacy technicians: Who help patients get the best out of their medicines
  • Physician associates: Who can take medical histories and blood pressures, complete insurance forms and explain treatments, freeing up the GP
  • Health and wellbeing coaches: Who work alongside patients who may need additional support
  • Care co-ordinators: Who are trained health professionals that help to manage a patient's care
  • Dieticians: Who diagnose, treat and educate on dietary and nutritional problems
  • Podiatrists: Who diagnose and treat conditions of the feet and lower limb
  • Occupational therapists: Who can support with everyday activities which have become difficult
  • Trainee Nursing Associate: Who works under the direction of a registered nurse (or other registered care professional), with a focus on promoting good health and independence
  • Nursing Associate: Who performs clinical observations (such as blood pressure) promotes health and wellbeing and cares for individuals with dementia and mental health conditions
  • Community Paramedic: Who assesses and triages patients, providing definative treatment (including prescribing medications)
  • Advanced Practitioner: Who are designated advanced Clinical Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Dietitians, Poditatrists, Occupational Therapists and / or Paramedics
  • Mental Health Practitioners: Who provide a combined consultation, advice, triage and liaison function to patients

Collaborative working

PCNs acknowledge they cannot deliver the outcomes of these specifications in isolation and have therefore started encouraging work with partners in community healthcare, mental health, social care, hospital and voluntary services through ‘Warrington Together’ and the established Provider Alliance Board. This partnership joins health and care across Warrington creating a local Integrated Care Partnership (ICP).

The following organisations are part of the ICP, working together to achieve the NHS Long Term Plan and the Government’s ambition that all parts of England will have joined up systems by 2021:

  • Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Warrington Borough Council
  • NHS Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire
  • Primary Care Network Representatives
  • Warrington Third Sector Health and Wellbeing Alliance.

More information

The short animation below provides further detail about the development of Primary Care Networks nationally.