From the moment primary care networks (PC Ns) were first announced with the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan and the new framework for the GP contract in January 2019, PCC has been providing support across the country to both PCNs and their commissioners. This support has been continually evolving in order to meet the changing needs of PCNs, ensuring that whatever stage of development they are in, and whatever changes the system threw up, there has always been a reliable expert close to hand.
The journey began during the early days of 2019 when PCNs were beginning to form. PCC supported both individual PCNs, and larger place based groups of PCNs to get to grips with the requirements of the Network Contract DES. In the North East we facilitated workshops with a group of three PCNs to agree how they were going to set up, firstly as individual PCNs and then as a collective group. This close working in the early days was important, as developing a framework of shared principles and working methods meant they were able to move forward with confidence from the beginning.
PCC works with specialist partners to provide PCNs with extensive expert support on a range of areas that are crucial to the organisational development of PCNs. Our partners include solicitors, who provide expert legal advice on the various structural forms a PCN can take including an exploration of the pros and cons that need to be considered and health care accountants who advise on the complex financial arrangements that come with the network agreement including dealing with VAT and single nominated payees.
As well as establishing the functional operation and form of PCNs, PCC have worked with PCNs across the country to help them to understand what unites and drives them. Workshops that develop mission statements through exploring shared visions and values are becoming increasingly popular and typically include time for PCNs to agree and begin to plan their short and medium term priorities, giving a tangible output to the sessions.
However, the functional and organisation development of PCNs is only a part of the support that has been provided over the last 18 months. PCC has designed and is now delivering clinical and non-clinical leadership development programmes. They include a Confident PCN leaders programme giving an introduction to leadership principles alongside practical skills that can be put to work immediately in their roles. There is a strong focus on the capabilities and techniques needed to foster collaboration and build the relationships on which the success of the network will depend. The programmes have developed in response to participant feedback and we ensure that the focus is on strengthening the skills to lead across the system. We deliver in a coaching style to ensure that the group has the space to share and learn from one another and we now include the opportunity to discuss the recent learning from the experience of leading during a pandemic. We’ve recently run national programmes as well as locally commissioned programmes for PCNs and alliances of networks.
Our team development offer is responsive and we design new training and support to best meet client needs in the changing NHS. Two areas where this has been seen most recently, are the design and development of new training to support the introduction of staff being employed through the additional roles reimbursement scheme and improving the communication and customer service skills of support staff. We have recognised that some of the staff engaged through the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS) will not have had any experience of working in a primary care setting. To further support their introduction into PCNs, we are currently running workshops on working in primary as part of the induction process
Covid-19 has had a significant impact on all of our lives. At PCC we developed a three step process which includes an impact assessment tool to help PCNs to understand the effect that COVID -19 has had on all aspects of practice work. We have provided this support in many PCNs and it has enabled them to take control and proactively plan for the future, confident in the knowledge that they have identified and learnt from the experience.
Finally, as we look to the future, the importance of working across sectors is being recognised as more and more important. PCC provides training and support at both place and system level to develop organisational relationships, collaborative working arrangements and ultimately improve the services and health outcomes of local populations. To this end, we are currently supporting a community health trust to engage with local PCN clinical directors in order to identify areas of challenge and then identify how working together can bring about mutual benefits.
If you are interested in finding out more about any of the support PCC can offer PCNs contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.pcc-cic.org.uk/pcn-and-ics-development-support/