Understanding - Primary Care Networks
Updated: Nov 19, 2019
From 1st July 2019, all patients in England should be covered by a primary care network (PCN) – but what are they?
PCNs are made up of neighbouring practices grouped together to form a ‘network’ covering between 30,000 and 50,000 patients with a mechanism for sharing staff and collaborating.
Although joining a network wasn’t compulsory, NHS England made it challenging for practices to abstain from joining a PCN by channelling a significant proportion of the increased funding for general practices through the networks.
According to Pulse (as of the 27th June 2019): A total of 1,259 networks have been formed. 83 of those are below the 30,000 threshold and a significant number of networks are above the 50,000 guidelines. 30 Practices who wished to join a network are still in negotiations and a further 25 have refused to join a network altogether.
PCNs are being introduced at a very difficult time for general practice, as despite a target to increase the number of GP’s by 5,000 between 2014 and 2020, the number of full-time GPs was 6% lower in 2018 than in 2015. New funding has been made available to the networks to employ additional health professionals such as pharmacists and paramedics with the aim of easing the pressure on GP's and practice nurses.
The work of the networks will be coordinated by a clinical director; a role that will be part funded by the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS).
Dr Becks Fisher told GP Online in August 2019 – “Implementing PCNs, let alone realising their potential, is a significant challenge. But the decision to direct much-needed additional funding and resource through PCNs rather than direct to practices is a clear signal that policy makers see scaling up as the best route to a more secure footing for general practice.”
How might all this effect your premises reimbursement?
Existing GP Practices may come across issues with the core GP contract because of how premises costs are reimbursed, and the restrictions on use and sharing of occupation which comes with that reimbursement. Some are held on leases which may have provisions restricting shared use.
Should you require any support or guidance on premises issues within your Primary Care Network please contact Will Ellis on 0114 4420098 who would be happy to assist.
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