What is a Primary Care Network?
In January 2019, the NHS Long Term Plan was published, placing an emphasis on prevention, population health and integration. A key part of this was the creation of Primary Care Networks (PCNs) which were a natural progression from the work that had been going on in County Durham over the previous couple of years.
PCNs are groups of neighbouring general practices working together and with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital, dentistry and voluntary services. Looking at the specific health and social care needs of patients living in their areas, PCNs are focusing on providing personalised, proactive and coordinated care for their patients, to help them live healthier for longer.
The size of PCNs means they benefit from economies of scale when buying resources, but can still keep a personal relationship with patients.
Health initiatives across networks mean more consistent, holistic approaches to how conditions or issues are dealt with, and better integration into care services.
The networks allow specialist staff to work across practices, providing services individual practices couldn’t finance individually.
Durham Dales Health Federation recruit and deploy specialist staff on behalf of the Primary Care Network like Clinical Pharmacists, Physiotherapists and Social Prescribing Link Workers.
Patients may see a specialist in their local practice, rather than a GP. This is often quicker for patients, and frees up GP appointments for other patients.