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Primary Care Networks

Exploring how the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector can support Primary Care Networks to engage with their local population and focus on what matters most to individuals and communities.

  • Primary care
  • Person-centred care

The introduction of Primary Care Networks

National Voices is committed to supporting the significant changes that are needed across our health system, including helping the NHS shift towards enabling people and communities to live well rather than just treating ill-health. This shift includes recognising opportunities for the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector to support Primary Care Networks (PCN).

Since the introduction of the NHS Long Term Plan developed in July 2019, every area of England, and every person who uses health services, is covered by a local PCN. PCNs bring together groups of general practices across an area to provide enhanced patient care and support such as community, mental health and pharmacy. These were formed with the intention of making primary care more sustainable, join up people’s care and aim to achieve better health and wellbeing.

As part of the NHS England and NHS Improvement ‘Universal, Personalised Care’ delivery plan under the NHS Long Term plan, National Voices has helped develop resources for the Primary Care Network (PCN) national programme.

Focusing on what matters most to individuals and communities

The NHS describes many aims and responsibilities of PCNs and some are of great importance to the VCSE sector, and the people with whom it works. These aims include bringing care closer to home, joining up care, working with the population, changing services and support, and working differently with people and communities.

We produced a resource to explore how VCSE organisations might supply knowledge, expertise and training to help PCNs develop and reach these aims. We identified four clear areas under which VCSE organisations may be most beneficial. These are community engagement, health inequalities, social prescribing and personalised care.

We believe this resource could be vital in making sure PCNs advantageously partner with the VCSE sector to become more closely engaged with their local communities and focus on making what matters to people matter in health and care. This resource was funded by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

As well as this briefing document, we have developed other resources for VCSE groups and networks to help explain PCNs and explore why and how to work with them. This includes a slide deck and a short leaflet.