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The latest PCN DES guidance

by in GP Practice Management, NHS England, Primary Care Networks (PCNs)

To assist with the changes to the Primary Care Network (PCN) DES, new updated guidance documentation has been published on Practice Index and can be accessed here.

While the guidance document goes into more detail, the changes that have been made by NHS England are summarised in their explanatory note dated 19th March 2020, shown below under ‘Further reading’.

The explanatory note recognises the effect that COVID-19 is having on practices and acknowledges that the pandemic will have to take priority for the next six months at least, and that primary care networks (PCNs) can suspend or postpone their activities, where necessary, in order to free up capacity to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

It goes on to summarise specific changes to the network contract directed service (DES) for 2020. These include:

  • The structured medication review service requirements will not begin until at least 1st October 2020.
  • When it comes to early cancer diagnosis, networks should begin work as soon as possible while continuing to support the COVID-19 response.
  • Enhanced health and care home requirements remain in place as these are vital services.
  • The introduction of the investment and impact fund has been delayed for at least six months.
  • The additional roles reimbursement scheme will continue as planned with 100% reimbursement of actual salary.
  • The note concludes by urging practices and commissioners to reconfirm their participation in the network contract as early as possible so there’s no interruption to PCN payments.

 New PCN contract sign-up documentation

The sign-up documentation consists of five parts:

The first tab is the introduction, providing a network contract DES participation form for 2020-21, which makes reference to the following:

  1. The first tab is the introduction, providing a network contract DES participation form for 2020-21, which makes reference to the following:
  • Previously approved PCC NHS with no change from last year 2019/2020
  • Previously approved PCNs with changes for 2020/21
  • New PCNs which have not previously been approved
  • Practices wishing to sign up to the network contract days without a PCN to join
  1. The second tab details the changes and updates to PCNs for 2020/21.
  2. The third tab deals with PCNs that have not previously existed and are being formed for the first time in 2020/21.
  3. The fourth tab is to be used by practices without a PCN to join.
  4. The fifth tab is the declaration, which has to be signed by the appropriate PCN.

The dreaded VAT clause

The VAT notice is a restatement of NHS England’s previous VAT guidance and PCNs would be well advised to take note of the final sentence: ‘Practices should note that HM Revenue and Customs has not agreed the position described in this document and that they are the authority for agreeing, administering and collecting VAT.’

Further reading

For the latest PCN DES guidance:

a) Network Contract Directed Enhanced Service – Contract specification 2020/21 – PCN Requirements and Entitlements

b) A covering explanatory note further details the revision to the DES contract for 2020/21

c) The PCN DES Guidance [PCN PLUS] is now available


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