Focus on Primary Care Networks – One month from launch

We are now a little over a month away from Primary Care Networks (PCN) going live and want to ensure that you’re getting the support you need.

Click here to find an update from Ockham Healthcare on the matters to focus on for the next month, you may wish to explore their website as they have useful resources, podcasts etc about general practice.

We have become aware of some practices opting out of providing extended hours as part of the new PCN DES, which is of course their right to do so.

There is an expectation in some areas that such practices should pay in their 45pence per patient earmarked as being for extended hours in their global sum. We would strongly advise all practices/PCNs that this should be an entirely voluntary arrangement should member practices wish to pay this in, we wouldn’t advise practices to do so as it is part of their global sum, wherever it has derived from.

Practices carrying out the extended hours will be paid for that work, those who don’t will not – it’s a commissioning issue. PCNs will, of course, have to have internal conversations with colleagues about how to provide the 100% coverage to all patients but the use of global sum funding would not, in our opinion, be the appropriate way to do so.

The wording of the Network DES agreement contains the following passages:

“Where a GP practice has signed up to the Network Contract DES, they become contractually obliged to offer extended access to its registered patients via the PCN (which can be delivered by the practice or sub-contracted). This is in addition to any CCG commissioned extended access services. Therefore, all patients should have access to extended hours services through the PCN, but it will be for the PCN to determine how that offer is made available to all its registered patients.”

“PCNs have the flexibility, once providing extended access, to sub-contract those services to other providers in accordance with any sub-contracting provisions of the GP practices’ primary medical services contracts”

The Network DES has been updated here and should be read as it has some definitive statements about bank accounts along with other up to date clarification. Other sources of info can be found as follows:

  • Click here to view the BMA PCN Handbook
  • Click here to view the BMA PCN Checklist

We have been promised template documents to help PCNs to complete schedules 2-7 by the GP Defence Fund. We anticipate that this will be available by mid-June which is close to the deadline of 1 July for PCN formation but may at the very least form a useful sense-check for the documents that you may already be working on.

Indeed, we are close to the conversations around the CCGs assisting you to complete your PCN schedules and will work with them to utilise these templates in addition to work already being completed. Ensure that you are happy with the contents of the schedules, they are your rules for how you as PCN members will work together and so you own this but are being helped to compile them.

As always, we are here to help you to navigate through this process and we can come to PCN meetings, work with you in discussions with your CCGs etc. We need to ensure that you as member practices drive the PCN agenda and that you are supported to make the best decisions you can for your neighbourhoods.

Kind regards,

Michael Wright, Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire LMC