Seven habits of highly successful Primary Care Networks

15 January 2020

by Dr Jonathan Steel MBChB MRCGP FRCP, Senior Clinical Associate

Email +44 (0)7850 515750

by Rose Taylor Director

Email +44 (0)7808 105895

The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) rests heavily on the success of Primary Care Networks (PCNs) as the core of integrated care systems.

PCNs provide a vital role in the sustainability of General Practices for the delivery of proactive care serving their populations and a systemwide voice for service transformation.

Even with extra funding and the appointment of Clinical Directors it’s a big ask for GPs to make this change to work together more closely. Some great work has already happened and our experience suggests that there are seven habits shared by the most successful PCNs:

1. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
What is the problem that the PCN wants to solve? Try to avoid jumping to a solution before you really understand the nature of the problem. How do you measure this problem and how will you know that you have solved it?

2. Begin with the end in mind
Work together with your partners and communities to create a vision of what this will look like in five years time. Take pride in it and write it down.

3. Put first things first
Organise and plan your work, prioritise around solving your problem, there is a lot going on, don’t get distracted by urgent but unimportant tasks.

4. Think Win Win
There will be many people with a vested interest in the success of the PCN. The managerial agenda may be different from the clinical one. Success will only be achieved if all these agendas are aligned. Time spent building relationships is time well spent.

5. Synergism takes time, be patient
Adopt the guiding principle that groups can achieve more than individuals. Success depends upon a skilled leader that keeps everyone committed.

6. Ask for help and be persistent
You are not alone. Your ICS should be reaching out and supporting you, pull them in. Get to know your neighbours, share your enthusiasm and pain. There is a lot you do not know. Proactively seek the help you need rather than wait for it to be imposed upon you. Persistence is the art of survival.

7. Look after yourself
Allow yourself time to reflect, recharge and recuperate so you can stay sharp and inquisitive.
The LTP has backed the development of PCNs with a growth fund but this means they must develop at pace to ensure the benefit of this cash injection. As integrated systems around them evolve, they must both lead by example and adapt to new ways of working. Hopefully this advice is helpful - more can be found on our website here.

by Dr Jonathan Steel MBChB MRCGP FRCP, Senior Clinical Associate

Email +44 (0)7850 515750

by Rose Taylor Director

Email +44 (0)7808 105895