Saving GP and practice nurse time is a key priority in primary care, particularly for those appointments that could be more appropriately dealt with by other professionals.
The Royal College of Occupational Therapists has set up new clinics in Southampton and Pembrokeshire. These are giving patients with physical and/or mental health problems the option of attending vocational clinics led by occupational therapists.
If primary care networks fail, the long-term plan will also fail. To succeed, PCNs need to get the workforce right. That means more staff in a wider variety of roles.
NHS England has recognised this by developing a five-year directed enhanced service (DES) payment scheme for PCNs, which are being encouraged to expand their workforce beyond the traditional practice-based roles.
Clinical directors will need to look in many directions at once if the high-speed journey of primary care networks (PCNs) is to succeed.
Although many see their main job as focusing on what’s happening outside – improving services for the PCN population, working with other providers, making the best use of the resources in the area – it’s equally important that they ensure that all the member practices are on board, and are not just coming along for the ride.