Primary care networks

9 October 2019

Primary care networks (PCNs) are an important phase in the evolution of general practice and essential to wider plans for integrated care systems. Successful networks will:

  • Increase the collective resilience of member practices
  • Help to plug existing capacity gaps through an expanded workforce
  • Offer improved and more varied services to local people
  • Make workload pressures more manageable
  • Work closely with community services, social care and the voluntary sector to provide more comprehensive and better integrated services.

NHS England has made it clear that PCNs that embrace change and move most rapidly to implement new ways of working can expect to benefit from increased funding through the network contract in future. They will be expected to meet a number of new service specifications representing some of the biggest challenges facing the NHS, including helping to reduce health inequalities, reducing the burden of urgent care that today mainly falls on hospitals, and improving detection and treatment of cancer, coronary heart disease and other major health conditions.

PCC offers support and development services in each of the domains of the “maturity matrix”, the NHS England document that describes the domains in which networks will need to develop to fulfil their potential. Our services will help emerging networks to meet the criteria set out in the forthcoming “network dashboard”, which commissioners will use to evaluate the performance of PCNs against the service specifications and gauge their eligibility for increased funding.

See our PCN support prospectus for an overview.


PCNs will only succeed if they are well-led.  Leadership will be provided not by a single individual but by a team including the PCN’s clinical director(s), the partners of the member practices and their practice managers.

We provide Confident Leader programmes for clinical directors and partners, and the Confident Practice Manager programme for the individuals who will operationalise many of the changes PCNs will need to make.

Both programmes span several months and involve a total commitment of around five days. We also offer a two-day clinical leadership course and a similar two-day course for practice managers.

We provide board-level development as well as coaching and mentoring services.  See our personal and team development section for details.

Practice team development

PCNs will depend not just on good leadership but on the performance of every member of the practice team. We offer training to help reception and admin teams play their part in improving efficiency and the experience of patients.

Find out more about our practice team development.

Stabilising and improving individual practices

It is in the interests of ever y PCN – and an explicit part of their role - to stabilise underperforming or struggling practices. This has traditionally been seen as the role of the commissioner, but peer support is a more effective remedy. Sometimes even that is not enough. PCC has supported a number of practices to improve, including those under threat of closure.

Find out more about how we can help your practice to develop the resilience to become an equal partner in the PCN.

We provide targeted support to enable practices to prepare for CQC inspection – contact us at for further details.

Our Services Primary care networks

Latest News

And they’re off: South West clinical directors’ network gets underway

14 November 2019

More than a hundred delegates, most of them clinical directors or practice business managers turned out to the inaugural meeting of the South West LMCs clinical directors’ network at Taunton Racecourse this week. Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, who chaired the event said: “GPs don’t like living with uncertainty so what they’re trying to do here is to second-guess where we’re trying to get to. One of the messages I’ve been trying to give them is that [PCNs] are for them to develop… Clinical directors need to be quite demanding about what they need to do that transformation and development.” Other speakers at the event, which was facilitated by PCC, included Dr Mark Stanford-Wood, a clinical director in the region and deputy chair of the General Practitioners Committee of the BMA. Dr Stanford-Wood, a member of the negotiating team for the five-year PCN contract, answered the numerous questions that arose about PCN funding, in particular about the funding rules for additional roles where the majority of the new investment is to be made. Listen to Dr Watson talking about the issues raised by the event in this week’s podcast.

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Asset-based community development to support your PCN

13 November 2019

Social prescribing link workers play a pivotal role in connecting PCNs with the existing groups and services that support their patients’ wellbeing at community level. For social prescribing to work well, a collaborative approach to working with partners and communities is needed, including further community development within primary care and outside. This event on 30 April 2020 in Manchester will help you to use learning from asset-based community development (ABCD) approaches to identify how PCNs can tap into the skills, strengths and energy in your local communities. Through this approach PCNs can enable local people to become active partners in their own health and wellbeing, supporting each other in your neighbourhood.

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The secrets of successful change agents

13 November 2019

Seventy percent of change programmes fail. Successful change leaders are able to adapt to changing circumstances and to bring their teams with them. This requires sound judgement, decision-making skills in an uncertain environment, personal resilience and an ability to understand and support others at different stages of change. This one-day workshop on 10 March in Manchester, 8 April in Birmingham and 23 April in London is for managers undergoing and supporting staff through change programmes. The content explores the merits of different approaches to implementing change and an understanding of the role and skills of an effective change agent. The workshop allows delegates to consider their own impact and emotions, and equips them the tools needed to facilitate and implement change.

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Involving communities in health and wellbeing - a practical approach

13 November 2019

This workshop on 19 February 2020 in London for PCN involvement leads, link workers and practice managers reconsiders the role of patient participation groups in PCNs and other involvement options for local people to support health and wellbeing in communities. It will encourage you to think about how to work differently with people and communities, extend the reach of your social prescribing link worker, and increase understanding about working with people as partners in their own health.

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A good CHAT boosts quality and saves money in dementia care

11 November 2019

A nurse-led service aimed at providing more care for care home residents with dementia outside hospital has produced big savings and improved patient care – winning national endorsement from NHS England.

As well as providing expert care to the residents, the Enfield Care Home Assessment Team (CHAT) supports and trains care home staff – giving them the confidence to respond to the residents’ needs and easier access to healthcare services when needed.

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