Alison Westmacott, SCW's Director of Primary Care looks at the challenges for Primary Care Networks, detailed in the NHS Long Term Plan
We are not sure what General Practice expected from the NHS Long Term Plan, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a contract change that pretty much requires they work in Primary Care Networks of 30,000 to 50,000 patients. I say “requires” because engagement of practices is “optional”; however, with most non-core contract work income now likely to flow through a new Network Contract (which will sit alongside their core GMS, PMS or APMS contract), engagement is less of an option, unless the Practice can survive on core contract income alone. We don’t know any that can do that.
Within SCW's work supporting the development of Primary Care Networks and, more broadly, General Practice operating at scale, we are finding that the networks which go on to deliver and succeed are built upon a foundation of like minds, long-standing relationships and great leadership.
These networks have a shared vision of what the future looks like and, with strong engagement and leadership across the network, they rapidly drive the business of Primary Care forward. Crucially, they are prepared to negotiate and compromise, accepting that they might not get their way 100% of the time.
We understand that the size and shape of a network can be influenced by determinants such as historic working arrangements, relationships, patient flow and the care needs of a given population, but most influential is the willingness of partners to work together.
Our specialist team will explore with you six key questions, which we use to develop the platform from which you can build your network. This is engagement in its truest sense as it is happening with the practices before any decisions have been made.
If you are leading the development of a Primary Care Network (or Networks), we would be delighted to hear from you and to share our ideas on how you can rapidly progress. The best Primary Care Networks we have worked with have been built using this model and we have quickly seen remarkable outcomes being achieved as a result. Ultimately, by taking our recommended approach and developing your shared vision, you will rapidly get the outcomes you want, need and have agreed.
There are challenging times ahead for General Practice, particularly with so much resting on the Primary Care Networks; however, we have some great examples of what can be achieved and are happy to share those with anyone interested in knowing more.
If you want to know more about how to develop a business ready Primary Care Network, please contact: