The BMA GP committee (England) and NHS England have agreed, through the national contract negotiations, for the development and rollout of PCNs.
PCNs are groups of GP practices working closely together - along with other primary and community care staff and health and care organisations - providing integrated services to their local populations. Since April 2019, individual GP practices can establish or join PCNs covering populations of between 30,000 to 50,000 (with some flexibility).
A DES (directed enhanced service) will support the development of PCNs and will cover a number of areas, including funding for the provision of additional workforce and services that the PCN will be required to provide. The BMA has been working with NHS England to ensure PCNs allow for the retention of what constitutes the very best of how general practice and wider primary care currently operates, retaining and building on the national GMS contract and the partnership model, while finding improved ways to deliver care that offer tangible benefits and improvements to patients, clinicians and the wider primary care team.
Aim of PCNs
The main aim of PCNs is to focus services around local communities and help rebuild and reconnect the primary healthcare team across the area they cover through the network, providing workload support for practices at the same time. LMCs and CCGs will work together to ensure practices will lead and direct these networks, it will help GPs and primary care practitioners to deliver a new model of care for their patients and communities.
The wider NHS landscape
ICS (Integrated Care Systems) are a new way of planning and organising the delivery of health and care services in England at a larger scale than PCNs. Every ICS will have a critical role in ensuring that PCNs work in an integrated way with other community staff and use integrated MDTs across primary and community care. PCNs are central to the provision of integrated, at-scale primary care, encompassing services beyond core general practice and working closely with acute, community and mental health trusts, as well as pharmacy, voluntary and local authority services.
This guidance aims to provide advice to GPs, practices, PCNs, LMCs and federations on engaging with sessional GPs and ensuring they are represented in the PCN sphere and in PCN discussions.
Blog: The explainer: PCNs
Blog: Will PCNs fulfil the needs of general practice?
Blog: Local Medical Committees (LMCs) and Primary Care Networks (PCNs)