Committee Blog – Primary Care Networks

Committee Blog – Primary Care Networks

October 3, 2019

Primary Care Networks

Gordon Couper

Hello and welcome back to the first of our committee member blogs. I am Gordon Couper, Chair of the LPC and an independent pharmacy contractor with two pharmacies, one in Chester and the other on the Wirral. This blog is in two parts, the first one covered the new Pharmacy contract (link) and this one focuses on Primary Care Networks.

Adam, our CEO wrote a blog just before the summer on Primary Care Networks ( detailing the difference in approach and the importance of the networks within the NHS Long Term Plan. Please review this and watch the short video explaining why on the link above.

PCNs are going to be a huge part of our engagement – they will own local health outcomes as targets and control commissioning decisions to deliver them. As the NHS devolves more to the local bodies, more of our income received will also come from local commissioning rather than national – the new framework points towards that also with enabling factors.

This will be massively difficult for us. We have for years been directly competing for patients to earn our living and now we must work together with our local competitors to operate within a network. Of course, the GPs have had a similar transition with the movement towards GP Federations as mechanisms to work together and the LPC is investigating similar structures longer term.

For now, I must encourage you all to engage with PCNs but also must do it in an organised and controlled fashion – otherwise we will leave the system in a state of confused chaos and none of us will be able to assist and benefit.

Over the coming weeks, the LPC will be writing to all contractors detailing which network they reside in geographically, which other pharmacies are within that network and which GP practices have been assigned. There will no doubt be pharmacies that also feel they belong in other networks and the LPC can enable this. We’re setting up email groups for each PCN and can assign pharmacies who feel they have good patient flows with multiple PCNs to those networks to enable communication. We’re aiming for trust and transparency across each network so everything that happens can be shared with all and we move more towards a collaborative approach rather than competitive.

We’ll also be asking for local leads able to either engage or attend local meetings on behalf of the network and our team will support any discussions around that.

I would like to leave you with 5 big reasons to engage with our PCN agenda:

  1. Potential to increase footfall and pharmacy services income
  2. Enhancing the delivery of existing services
  3. Patients signposted into pharmacy services
  4. Opportunity for new services to be commissioned
  5. Opportunity for collaborative working to support patients

The LPC is preparing four information evenings throughout October that cover both the new contractual framework and Primary Care Networks – watch out for the dates and ensure you attend.

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