NHS England’s plans to create fully integrated community-based health services through new primary care networks (PCN) in every area of England have been welcomed by the NHS Confederation, NHS Clinical Commissioners and the National Association of Primary Care.
The three health organisations say the increased £1.8 billion investment over the next four years, marks a huge milestone for primary care.
They will join forces to support the development of the new networks by convening primary and community care leaders to explore how best to represent the new networks as they launch throughout the country.
A letter, co-signed by the three organisations, has been sent today to a wide range of representative bodies, inviting them to come together to explore practical steps to support the new networks.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:
“Achieving fully integrated community-based health care is vital if we are to provide care closer to people’s homes and put the service on a sustainable path.
“This investment in primary care and the creation of networks with different health and care staff working together for the benefit of patients is a fantastic opportunity to support overstretched general practice as well as other hard pressed services in the community.
“This builds on the considerable work over recent years to develop more integrated primary and community services. It is the right approach but we have needed this increased investment and focus to have a chance of making it a reality throughout the country.
“Working with our partners, we are keen to play a key role in supporting the development of these new networks and making sure they can influence them national policy-making in this vital area.
“The strength of the PCNs will be in the range of skills and expertise brought by the primary care professionals that will be a cornerstone of the networks, and will go some way to delivering integrated care that works for our populations.”
Dr Graham Jackson, co-chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners, said: “Today’s announcements outline a potentially very exciting future for primary care and one that will be changing rapidly over the next few months.
“As a GP and a clinical commissioner I am really pleased to see a cogent and substantial boost for PCNs and the potential they have to support resilience in primary care. It makes absolute sense to share and provide services over a larger footprint than just a single practice, this will lead to a better range of services delivering care closer to home.
“We know from CCGs that clinical leadership is crucial to successfully delivering for patients based on local need. Embedding that into planning and decisions at both the place – through the clinical commissioning function – and the neighbourhood level through PCNs should be hugely beneficial to delivering for local residents.
“The strength of the PCNs will be in the range of skills and expertise brought by the primary care professionals, and PCNs will go some way to delivering integrated care that works for our populations.”
Dr Minesh Patel, NAPC chair, said:
“The five-year deal and this ramping up of investment for primary care marks a milestone for primary care.
“We now have 220 primary care homes across England spearheading the transformation of integrated primary care across England. These established primary care networks, serving 9 million patients, 16% of the population will now have the means to surge ahead with real momentum – to redesign their services and expand their teams based on their local population health needs.
“Within current resources, primary care homes are already making a real difference to patients – increasing patient satisfaction and reducing pressure on the wider health system, the new money will mean they can go so much further. We look forward to sharing their learning over the coming weeks and months.”