Northamptonshire is once again leading the way in a new national initiative encouraging GP practices to work more closely together to improve health and care for their local communities.
Primary Care Networks (PCNs) are new local collaborations of GP practices, organised by the practices themselves to ensure that together they are better equipped to meet the health and wellbeing needs of their populations.
The new PCNs won’t change the way people access their GP on a day-to-day basis, but because practices will be working together locally – sharing resources, training, leadership, standards and planning – the PCNs can make it easier for people to access a range of high-quality health and care services closer to where they live.
As of 1 July, when the new national general practice contract came into effect, Northamptonshire’s 16 new PCNs were officially formed. That number includes four PCNs in south Northamptonshire, six in Northampton and six in the north of the county, as shown in the list on the right.
Each PCN covers a local population ranging from 30,000 people to nearly 80,000 people, and the networks are made up of anything from two GP practices to nine.
Northamptonshire was the first area in the Midlands to offer 100% population coverage through its Primary Care Networks – so the benefits of closer working between GP practices will reach everyone living in our county.
Julie Curtis, director of primary and community integration for Northamptonshire CCGs and joint senior responsible officer for NHCP’s ‘Care in your area’ priority, said: “We know that collaboration is vital if we are to deliver a positive lifetime of health, wellbeing and care in our community – and the establishment of Primary Care Networks is further evidence of our commitment to effective partnership working.
“The health and wellbeing needs of local communities can vary considerably in different parts of the county and no one knows more about the best way to serve those needs than their GP practices.
“Northamptonshire’s GPs have worked incredibly hard to design and organise our PCNs and the fact that our county was the first area in the Midlands to offer 100% population coverage is testament to their efforts.
“NHCP will now be supporting our 16 new PCNs in their development as we work together to provide the best possible care and support for the people of Northamptonshire.”
Over the next three years, new general practice staff will be recruited to support the work of GPs and their teams and improve access to healthcare for patients.
The roles include clinical pharmacists, social prescribing link workers (see page 3), physician associates, first-contact physiotherapists and first-contact paramedics. The development of our PCNs will also be supported by the introduction of new digital technologies.