Primary Care Networks: What Are They & How Do They Work? 

In 2019 the NHS introduced a healthcare system known as Primary Care Networks (PCNs). The NHS is placing a lot of focus and investment in the establishment of these networks. Here is a breakdown and explanation of what PCNs are, how they work and the services they provide. 

What is a Primary Care Network? 

PCNs are a part of the NHS’s long-term plan to create proactive, personalised, coordinated, and integrated health and social care for people in local communities that suffer from long-term conditions. PCNs are especially helpful for those who suffer from diabetes, mental health conditions, physical disabilities, cancer, and many other medical conditions that require specialised care or regular medical consultations. 

PCNs are usually GPs working within community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local areas. There are currently 1 250 PCNs across England; each PCN is based on the registered patient lists of GPs operating in communities of between 30 000 and 50 000 people.  

How are Primary Care Networks formed? 

For the most part, PCNs are geographically based and are formed to cover all practices within a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) boundary. While local practices are not required to join their local PCNs, it is the recommended thing to do as they will be losing out on a significant amount of extra funding if they do not.  

What do Primary Care Networks do? 

The NHS has high hopes and ambitious plans for PCNs across England. They want to make these PCNs a key vehicle for delivering a great deal of commitments in the long-term plan as well as a way of providing a wider range of services to patients. 

It has been established that all PCNs must offer structured medication reviews, enhanced health in care homes and support for patients with early cancer diagnoses. These three are part of a set of seven national service specifications that PCNs will soon be delivering. There are four more that will soon follow which deal with anticipatory care (with community services), personalised care, cardiovascular disease case-finding and locally agreed action to tackle inequalities.  

Next Steps 

GPs are beginning to fully embrace the opportunities presented by PCNs and there are already great strides being made to make PCNs a fully comprehensive part of the NHS. There is proof of this progress in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are still a number of obstacles that PCNs have to overcome. Recruitment is often an issue for networks, especially in remote parts of the country, economically unattractive areas, and areas with wider health care workforce problems. 

MCG Healthcare offers a wide variety of jobs in the healthcare industry that may be a part of a Primary Care Network. This is why we take a great deal of interest in the development of these networks and what benefits they offer to both patients and our candidates. For consultants that go the extra mile, valuable resources and a broad choice of healthcare work, contact one of our consultants and send through your CV here 


About the author
Simon Watson Healthcare Writer

Simon Watson is a copy writer with a passion for research and an interesting in all thing’s healthcare. Writing about healthcare requires a lot of research and fact checking before even starting the writing process, this is why Simon finds it so rewarding to write articles about this important industry.

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