Primary Care Networks (PCNs) are a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
They are groups of GP Practices designed to have a population of between 30,000 and 60,000 patients, working together with other local organisations, such as community, mental health, social care, pharmacies, hospitals and voluntary services. They will support the needs of our population that has increased, is living longer and needs to access local health services more often.
GP Practices have been working together for a number of years, through federations, networks, clusters, localities and partnerships. The NHS Long Term Plan and the new five-year framework for the GP contract, published in January 2019, made this more formal without creating new statutory bodies.
PCNs are designed to build on and hopefully enhance the current services offered by your GP Practice. Our PCN consists of Dolphin House, Puckeridge and Buntingford Surgeries and serves a population of about 33,000. As Puckeridge and Buntingford are run by the same GP partners it allows them along with us, to still provide the personalised care valued by patients, but be big enough to have impact and economies of scale through closer working. Many patients have asked why Church Street is not part of Ware and Rurals, but as they have merged with Castlegate in Hertford, it means they have to be part of the Hertford PCN.
The PCN started in July 2019, and we have been able to deliver an increase work-force to the community by employing three pharmacists, a pharmacy assistant, four social prescribers, two care coordinators, two care home support nurses that also help with practice nursing and a first contact physiotherapy service. We have recently also employed a mental health support nurse.
It is also through the PCN that we were able to deliver the Covid vaccines at Ware Drill Hall and now deliver the extended access appointments in the evening and on Saturday.
Dr O’Reilly is the Clinical Director of Ware and Rurals PCN.