Since the NHS was created in 1948, the population has grown and people are living longer. Many people are living with long term conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, or suffer with mental health issues and may need to access their local health services more often.
To meet these needs, practices have begun working together and with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local areas in primary care networks.
Primary care networks were created in July 2019 to build on the core of current primary care services and enable greater provision of proactive, personalised, coordinated and more integrated health and social care.
The aim of a primary care network is to improve outcomes for patients through closer working between those organisations who provide health and care services in your area, which means a greater range of services available to you locally.
What they mean to you
Primary care networks will be developed over the next three years and will give you access to a wider range of health and care professionals, as part of community teams. This includes GPs, nurses, therapists, pharmacists and social care providers – each providing care that is tailored to your needs, coordinated and accessible in your community.
GPs will be able to provide care that meets your health and care needs, focusing more on supporting those patients with complex conditions and, with the support of their teams, help you to prevent ill health. This should bring a greater balance to their workload and free up time to spend with those patients who need it the most.
There are 18 primary care networks in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire with populations ranging from 31,000 to 101,000. Each primary care network has a Clinical Director who will play a critical role in shaping and supporting their network. You can see a list of the PCNs here.
One of our BNSSG paramedics talks about their current role in general practice, demonstrating how primary care networks are already making a difference to staff and patients:
“As a Paramedic Practitioner working in general practice, I can see first-hand the impact of the role in this setting. I see around 30-35 patients per day, including three home visits. The patients’ presenting complaints vary from minor injury/minor illness, to sexual health, or urgent/emergency complaints such as cardiac chest pain. I also take bloods, order bloods, scans/X-rays and analyse my own lab reports. I also do ECGs, the resus training for the practice and attend practice meetings.
“My practice is particularly supportive and I have an allocated supervising GP for both morning and afternoon clinics. The ultimate aim is to aid with the increasing GP workload and patient demand. An example is when an urgent home visit comes through on the on-call list, which I then attend, enabling the on-call GP to continue managing the list, whereas previously they would have had to go out on the visit themselves.”
Watch this short animation to find out more about the development of primary care networks nationally:
More information on primary care networks from NHS England.