Primary care networks (PCNs) will eventually be required to deliver a set of seven national service specifications. Three started in 2020/21: structured medication reviews, enhanced health in care homes, and supporting early cancer diagnosis. A further four are also set to follow- anticipatory care (with community services), personalised care, cardiovascular disease case-finding, and locally agreed action to tackle inequalities.
To do this we will be expected to provide a wider range of primary care services to patients, involving a wider set of staff roles than might be feasible in individual practices, for example, first contact physiotherapy, extended access and social prescribing.
Networks will also be the footprint around which integrated community-based teams will develop, and community and mental health services will be expected to configure their services around PCN boundaries. These teams will provide services to people with more complex needs, providing proactive and anticipatory care.
Primary care networks think wider than their own individual practice populations, taking a more proactive approach to managing population health and assessing the needs of local people who would benefit from targeted, proactive support.
Primary care networks will be focused on service delivery, rather than on the planning and funding of services, responsibility for which will remain with commissioners, and are expected to be the building blocks around which integrated care systems are built. The ambition is that primary care networks will be the mechanism by which primary care representation is made stronger, with the accountable clinical directors from each network being the link between general practice and the wider system.