South Stevenage Primary Care Network
At the beginning of 2019 the government and the GPC, the body representing GPs, agreed a five year contract which aimed to alleviate the workforce pressures on general practice, secure enhanced investment into primary medical care, and roll out new ways to help patients.
The new GP contract is based around the creation of primary care networks (PCNs) According to NHS England “A PCN consists of groups of general practices working together with a range of local providers–including across primary care, community services, social care and the voluntary sector –offering more personalised, coordinated care to their local populations. There has been an enthusiastic response to PCNs across the country: over 99% of practices have signed up to participating in around 1250 networks, firmly establishing PCNs as a route to greater collaboration across general practice and the wider NHS”.
The government in 2020 has committed considerable additional funding to primary care which should result in up to 6000 new roles within primary care over the next four years. The idea is not to replace GPs with allied health professionals, but to improve the link between people with questions about their health and social care and people who can provide the answers.
There are now two PCNs is Stevenage. The Shephall Health Centre is part of the South Stevenage PCN, together with the surgeries at Knebworth, King Georges, Bedwell and Marymead. The PCN was formally established mid 2019. Until then all of these surgeries operated independently. In addition to providing the ongoing service we enjoy, the staff within the PCN will now need to spend considerable amounts of time and effort to establish new ways of working and work out how to manage the funding and additional services across the PCN. Unfortunately, in the early stage of its development this integration is likely to put additional time pressures on an already stretched service.
In the short term, you will probably not see anything different. However, as the PCN evolves new services will become available within the health centre delivered by clinical pharmacists, physiotherapists, physician’s associates, social prescribing link workers, paramedics, pharmacy technicians, care-coordinators, occupational therapists, dietitians, and podiatrists that are not normally available within the health centre.
The PCN is already consulting with the different Patient Participation Groups to ensure that the patient perspective is understood and taken into account in any decision making.
We will be able to provide more information about the service and time frames as the PCN evolves. Watch this space!!