The new primary care networks should meet “real world” tests of success, including improving access to GPs, the head of NHS England has said.
The networks need to demonstrate success in tackling workforce pressures – and also succeed in joining up community and primary care nursing, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said.
GP leaders agreed to press on with creating powerful networks when the new GP contract was signed earlier this year.
The networks have already been given significant responsibilities and will employ many of hundreds of extra primary care staff undertaking supplementary clinical roles. There are now 1,200 covering England.
Quoted by the Health Service Journal, Mr Stevens said: “The real world test will be, first of all, have they helped with some of the workforce challenges in the constituent GP surgeries that form them.
“Things like sharing the extra primary care professionals that are being partly funded now, whether it’s clinical pharmacists or therapists, other disciplines that can’t always be deployed at practice level. Are they helping GPs and sessional GPs work across practices? So PCNs need to be an organising entity for that type of workforce support.
“Secondly, from the point of view of patients, are PCNs improving patient access to appointments at their GP practice? As well as workforce, there are a set of things around practice organisation and systems that they can help with.
“Then the third thing is PCNs helping link primary care and community nursing teams. With around 1,000 primary care networks for 30 to 50,000 people you now can make a reality of team assignments for the patients that community teams and practices are going to support jointly.”