On 1st July 2019, GP practices across the country began working with other practices in their local area in groups called primary care networks (PCNs). The three clinical commissioning groups in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, who oversee the care provided in local GP practices, are now able to confirm how practices have grouped together locally.
PCNs were announced as part of NHS England’s Long Term Plan earlier this year. They have been put in place to improve and extend the range of services that are available in the community and join up the care that is provided from different organisations. It is expected that by working together, practices will be able to make resources go further and care for patients more creatively.
Each PCN will look after between 30,000 and 50,000 patients, but there may be some with more or less patients than that.
A much wider team of health professionals is increasingly becoming involved in patients’ care in GP practices. Through primary care networks there will be even more clinical pharmacists, physiotherapists, physician associates, community paramedics and social prescribing link workers looking after patients day-to-day.
Practice staff will also work together with other health, social care and voluntary sector organisations, to plan the care patients need and prevent ill-health in a coordinated way. These wider teams will include pharmacists, district nurses and specialists who care for certain types of conditions or groups of patients with particular needs.
GP practices will remain independent. Patients will continue to be registered at their existing GP practice and it will still be the main point of contact for their care.
Each primary care network will decide how it will provide care for its patients. Examples could include sharing health professionals between practices or offering appointments at a different practice in the network to improve access– particularly if they have a non-urgent problem or that practice specialises in an area of care they need.