What are Primary Care Networks?
Primary Care Networks (PCNs) are a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan, with general practices being a part of a network, typically covering 30,000-50,000 patients.
Primary Care Network is the network where surgeries are working together.
PCNs are based on general practice registered lists, typically serving natural communities of around 30,000 to 50,000 patients. They should be small enough to provide the personal care valued by both patients and healthcare professionals, but large enough to have impact and economies of scale through better collaboration between general practices and others in the local health and social care system, including community pharmacies.
The NHS plan for community and primary care for the next 5-10 years is a response to the continuing pressures on practices and the wider NHS, including workforce shortage and financial pressure in the face of trying to deliver more and better patient care. The plan is welcome and if implemented well will get providers (general practices, community services, hospitals, local authorities and voluntary sector partners) to work much more closely together to provide better care for patients.
There are 5 Primary Care Network groups in Harrow.
Shaftesbury Medical Centre is part of an 11-practice Primary Care Network called Harrow Collaborative Network, which includes Civic Medical Centre, Pinner View Medical Centre, Pinner Road Surgery, Savita Medical Centre, Headstone Lane Surgery, Headstone Road Surgery, First Choice Medical, Zain Medical Centre, Kenton Clinic and Kings Road Surgery.
How will this work and how will it affect our patients?
The networks will provide the structure and funding for services to be developed locally, in response to the needs of the patients they serve. It is important that community pharmacy teams are fully involved in the work of their PCN and this is being encouraged via the Pharmacy Quality Scheme.
The networks will have expanded neighbourhood teams which will comprise a range of staff such as GPs, clinical pharmacists, district nurses, community geriatricians, dementia workers and Allied Health Professionals such as physiotherapists and podiatrists/chiropodists, joined by social care and the voluntary sector’.
The first couple of years are about practices and providers finding their way of working together, and there is unlikely to be much change noticed by patients. After this the patients may encounter a practice pharmacist conducting their medication review at the surgery, a paramedic working across practices undertaking urgent home visits, or a physician’s associate seeing patients in the surgery. These professional roles are to be rolled out gradually into surgeries. The supervision will be from GPs so the quality of care will be maintained but it will hopefully allow better access for patients. In the medium term, there are also likely to be changes to how evening and weekend cover will be provided.
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