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01.07.19

Royal College of GPs chair responds to Primary Care Networks launch

Chair of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, believes the newly-launched Primary Care Networks (PCNs) have "undeniable benefits, but there is no 'one size fits all' approach to solve GP pressures".

PCNs are a key feature of the NHS Long Term Plan, with all general practices being required to be in a network by June 2019. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are required to commit recurrent funding to develop and maintain these PCNs.

Each network would cover 30,000-50,000 patients and comprise a range of staff such as GPs, pharmacists, district nurses, community geriatricians, dementia workers and Allied Health Professionals such as physiotherapists and podiatrists/chiropodists, joined also by social care and the voluntary sector.

READ MORE: Healthwatch: Long-term plan is just the start

READ MORE: NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson gives his verdict on NHS long-term plan legislative report

Professor Stokes-Lampard said: "Primary Care Networks are essentially groups of practices working together and aiming to work with other agencies to deliver improved care for patients - and collaboration can have great benefits, particularly at a time when general practice is facing such intense resource and workforce pressures.

"Working in networks should allow general practices to pool clinical and administrative resources, as well as making it easier to introduce truly multi-disciplinary teams - ultimately it should help to free up GPs' time to spend with patients who need us most, and improve access to more integrated services for our communities.

GPs

"However, there is no 'one size fits all' approach to resolving the pressures facing general practice, and while structural reorganisation like this can be positive for surgeries with sufficient resources, others will need a lot more support and time to develop.

"It is also essential that for Primary Care Networks to succeed, they are owned and designed by GPs and our teams - not subject to top-down imposition from commissioners. We are part of our local communities and are best-placed to understand our patient populations and their needs.

"As well as embracing new models of care, we need to see the other promises laid out in the NHS Long-Term Plan delivered in full, and more detail about how the aspirations in the interim People Plan will be achieved, as soon as possible."

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