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What are PCNs (primary care networks)? PCNs are formal groupings of practices working together to provide services by linking with other providers. Ideally, they cover populations of 30 to 50 thousand patients, but some are larger. Each PCN has an appointed clinical director who manages the PCN and makes strategic decisions as to how it is run and how it begins to develop services. National funding will still flow to individual practices and will increase by almost £1bn over the five year contract period, with an additional £1.8bn going to PCNs. Employing PCN pharmacists and social prescribers is one element of the initial funding, along with the PCN entitlement payment and the extended hours payment – the PCN will decide how to use these. GPC England has developed extensive guidance on how PCNs are developed and governed, which you can read here
Where will sessional GPs fit in these new structures? On a simple level, there will, of course, still need to be GPs on the ground dealing with the increasing patient demand all healthcare providers are experiencing; direct involvement in patient care will likely not change hugely.
What is important is involving sessional GPs in shaping how PCNs develop. With sessional GPs now making up over 40% of our GP workforce, it’s essential that these new structures are developed in a way that recognises, values and includes all of our workforce in their development – creating realistic models that recognise and incorporate our shifting workforce structure.
How can you get involved as a sessional GP? You could join your LMC and learn more about wider issues and the impact you could have. Also look at what roles your CCG/STP/federation are offering and get involved that way. You can also get involved in your PCN management – if you’re not already the clinical director (remembering they can be any qualified clinician), then I’m sure they would welcome a willing aide.
We have developed short guidance for GPs, practices, PCNs, LMCs and federations on engaging with sessional GPs and ensuring they are represented in PCN discussions.
Don’t be afraid would be my main advice. You probably have many more skills than you realise. Most people are just incredibly grateful to have someone keen, willing and enthusiastic to get involved and help shape change. It can feel daunting but there are unique insights you bring that a contract-holding colleague may not see, and this is vital to ensure our united workforce develops together effectively and maintains a unified voice as we begin to integrate with other providers.
Nicola Kemp is an executive team member of the sessional GPs committee
Hi Nicola, how can non-CD sessional GPs access funding for their input, given that the numbers are so tight as it Is?
A right and timely communication mean a stitch in time saves the whole organization. A good leader must not shy from difficult conversations with the staff and the clients For More Information.