top tips for PCNs

Top tips for Primary Care Networks

I was recently asked what advice I’d give to organisations involved in the development of Primary Care Networks (PCNs).  I’ll add in an early disclaimer here that there is no magic bullet!  But what I do hope is that my experience in primary care and commissioning gives a useful and potentially different insight to support those of you currently developing or supporting a PCN, wherever you may be on your journey.

Where are we now?

With less than a week until GP practices must ‘complete and return’ their Primary Care Network (PCN) registrations to sign up to the network contract DES, I think challenging is a good way to describe the process.  Developing new ways of workings, managing change, collaboration and tight timescales are never easy asks.  Couple these with the well reported excessive pressures in day to day general practice and it’s a wonder that PCNs are as progressed as they are.  They do say if you want anything done you should ask a busy person!

So far, my experience of PCNs has been wading through the guidance, getting involved in the discussions with practices about how they are planning to configure their PCN, and liaising with the LMC in their driving of the local arrangements.  I have also been ensuring that system partners are engaged in the conversations and understand the criteria for PCN approval.  There’s a lot of people to bring along in this change.

My advice

But what advice would I give?  Here’s some top tips for each organisation type that I believe is a key player in the development of PCNs:

CCGs and STPs – let the PCNs land, embed and have a chance to be successful before the ask upon them gets too great.

GP federations – Facilitate your members to help them to keep ownership local.  Look for opportunities to bring PCNs together to support wider population coverage and business gain.   Invest in your members to enable them to focus on PCN implementation.

GP practices – Get involved, make sure your voice is heard, don’t have this “done to you or around you”, understand the rules of engagement, recognise that this is a new collective vehicle that needs to collective input to thrive.  The benefits will come from allowing real collaboration to be given a chance to improve workload and workforce issues.

And finally…PCNs – Know the rules, listen and engage, and don’t try to be the answer to everyone’s problems.

If you have any questions about how we could provide support to you through your own PCN journey please get in touch.

Alice Benton is a member of the At Scale team and has almost 18 years NHS commissioning experience, predominantly in primary care.

NHS Operational Planning and Contracting Guidance 2019/20

The publication of the NHS Long Term Plan on Monday 7 January has been swiftly followed by the NHS Operational Planning and Contracting Guidance 2019/20 and draft CCG allocations for the next five years.

The HFMA has published two summary documents to enable NHS finance professionals to understand the priorities for health and care over the next decade and the financial framework to support this. The HFMA’s briefings provide an overview of the key points and link to further reading where more detail is required.

HMFA – a summary of the NHS Lon Term Plan

HMFA – summary of NHS operational planning and contracting guidance 19/20

How CCGs can develop networks, integrated care and at scale practices

How CCGs can develop networks, integrated care and at scale practices

General practice, and indeed primary healthcare is changing. Tell me something new I hear you say. People are living longer, often with long term conditions, which means a higher demand on local health services.

This means it’s essential that general practices work collaboratively with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local areas. And GP practices working at scale plays a key part in doing this successfully.

Working at scale supports general practice to share resources, share skills and to build resilience and sustainability. In turn, this enables them to meet the increasing challenges and demands. Essentially it’s about practices working collaboratively to provide patient-focused care.

But how can CCGs support this and develop networks, integrated care and at scale practices?

All CCG’s recognise that many practices are talking about working together and discussing mergers. Some discussions are in early stages and some have been under discussion for some time. Some more successful than others. But in turn this has provided great examples and learning for those that follow. The challenge is for CCGs to support practices turn those discussions into tangible results and achieve the outcomes working at scale can deliver.

So how can CCGs support their GP practices to collaborate or merge voluntarily and support them when they do? Experience suggests many practices start from a blank page, developing an approach using traditional project consulting which is paper based and resource intensive. This can result in costs that preclude potential savings with attached fear factors. It doesn’t need to be this complex, time consuming or expensive.

We think CCGs face the following four main challenges – and these are challenges we can work with you to address:

  1. Tracking the progress of their transformation programme, without having to micro-manage each at scale project
  2. Adopting a common framework of actions that provide CCGs and practices with assurance that the process will achieve success and ensuring a common project management model and language across their programme
  3. Addressing the challenges highlighted in the GP Forward View and demonstrating a measurable return on CCG Transformation funding
  4. Ensuring health outcomes and service stability is maintained during the transition to the new entity

There is support available to CCGs and practices throughout this journey towards new ways of working at scale. The key is to ensure CCGs and their practices become at scale ready.

ATSCALE works in primary care, efficiency and cost savings to integrated health services and we develop and implement new models of care with general practice, GP federations and commissioners. Our services are focused on the ever changing national agenda to develop greater resilience, more integrated working and greater at scale working in primary care. We help our clients deliver this agenda and deliver at scale working.

Contact us for more information and to find out how we could support you. You can also download Developing networks, integrated care and at scale practices in your CCG.

Mike Gill is partner at ATSCALE.