Want an ICS? Then you’ll need some of these

12 September 2018
Primary care networks (PCNs) are at the heart of the developing integrated care systems starting to spring up across England.
 
In many areas NHS England’s desire to see GP practices working together in PCNs that integrate community healthcare at scale is now backed by resources.
 
PCNs are groups of GP practices working with a range of statutory and voluntary sector organisations to deliver integrated community health and wellbeing. NHS England’s preferred population size for PCNs is 30,000-50,000. A consensus is emerging that this is the most appropriate range for delivering primary care at scale without losing the local feel of NHS services.
 
The thinking behind PCNs is that they should promote collaborative working between practices and their partners while shaping collective solutions to local problems.
 
While many practices – including those led by some of the more effective and forward-looking GP federations – have travelled a long way down the PCN path, some are still groping their way towards the development of a meaningful PCN.
 
Whatever stage your practice has reached,the building blocks that will create an effective PCN provide you, neighbouring practices and other partners with the chance to take stock of how you meet your patients’ needs, ensure your practice is sustainable for the future, help your practice consider workforce challenges and ensure best use of NHS resources.
 
The building blocks for working together include identifying leaders, vision and purpose, asking who you want to work with locally and why, identifying workforce and capacity requirements and coming up with a credible business plan.
 
PCNs might what to consider how they support the local extended hours offer and other locally commissioned services.
 
It means working with local practices and other providers to evaluate what additional services can be delivered in the community – and the skill mix needed, both in your
practice and the wider network. What role, for example, will paramedics and clinical pharmacists play and who will employ them?
 
Practices are having to consider what partners – including voluntary sector organisations and community health providers – they can work with most effectively.
 
At PCC we are supporting emerging PCNs – and federations where they are established – as they grapple with those issues. The support involves helping them to focus on their collaboration and to ensure all their local practices understand the PCN’s role and their own role within it.
 
We support them as they define their vision and think about the ever-evolving policy and financial context they are operating in.
 
And because this process must be driven by local leaders, in some areas we are working with relatively well-established PCN boards as they review their business strategy and consider how to improve their communications with member practices and local stakeholders.
 
Even the most advanced PCN can benefit from this opportunity to pause and reflect on their business objectives and business plan.
 
NHS England sees the development of PCNs as a priority – and is funding some of that work.
 
To find out more about how PCC can support the development of your PCN, email us at enquiries@pcc-cic.org.uk.
Resources Integrated care systems

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