What are primary care networks?
The principle of Primary care networks (PCNs) is to bring general practices together to work at scale for a range of reasons, including improving the ability of practices to recruit and retain staff; to manage financial and estates pressures; to provide a wider range of services to patients and to integrate with the wider health and care system more easily. PCN’s cover populations of approximately 30–50,000 patients.
What do primary care networks do?
Primary care networks (PCNs) are required to deliver a set of seven national service specifications: structured medication reviews, enhanced health in care homes, and supporting early cancer diagnosis, anticipatory care (with community services), personalised care, cardiovascular disease case-finding, and locally agreed action to tackle health inequalities.
To do this networks are expected to provide a wider range of primary care services to patients, involving a wider set of staff roles than might be feasible in individual practices, for example, first contact physiotherapy, extended access and social prescribing.
Networks are also the footprint around which integrated community-based teams have developed, and community and mental health services have configured their services around PCN boundaries. These teams will provide services to people with more complex needs, providing proactive and anticipatory care.
Primary care networks are expected to think about the wider health of their population, taking a proactive approach to managing population health and assessing the needs of their local population to identify people who would benefit from targeted, proactive support.