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19 Ways to Use Your Primary Care Network Development Funding

Updated: Apr 9

At THC Primary Care, we provide resources for Primary Care Network leaders.

We were recently asked if we could share any ideas on how to spend the Primary Care Network development funding, so in this blog, we have 19 ideas for your consideration.

This blog is split into five sections that covers:

1️⃣ What is the Systems Development Funding, and what is it for?

2️⃣ What are the different ways funding is distributed to Primary Care Networks?

3️⃣ 8 ways / ideas to spend your PCN development fund

4️⃣ 6 specific recommendations on where to spend your PCN funding

5️⃣ Final thoughts

Let's jump in!

19 ways to spend your primary care network development funding

Section 1: What is the Systems Development Funding, and what is it for?

NHS England provides service development funding (SDF) (also sometimes called ‘System Development Funding’) each year for ICBs as additional programme funding on top of the ICB baselines and is not presented in the 23/24 PCN income-ready reckoner.

This funding is to be invested in 3 key areas to support practices and PCNs deliver:

🎯 Transformation

🎯 Workforce programmes

🎯 GPIT – Infrastructure

The SDF guidance document can be found here:

Section 2: How is the money distributed to Primary Care Networks?

As always, there is variation across the country in how the funding is allocated.

⏏️ Some ICBs may top slice a proportion of the funds for system-level activity and devolve the rest down to PCNs.

▶️ Some ICBs have instructed their networks to use their 100% share of the funding to;

  • Support staff skills

  • Improve ways of working

  • Reduce unwarranted variation and increase operational efficiency

  • Drive integrated working

  • Enhance the maturity of the PCN

Allowing their networks to use the funding to:

  1. Backfill staff

  2. Fund training

  3. Invest in workforce planning

  4. Contribute to ARRS recruitment

  5. Develop new services to reduce health inequalities

⏹️ In other areas, due to the ICBs being in financial recovery and currently reviewing their areas of investment, they feel they are not able to fund any additional money for PCN development.

Section 3: Ways to Spend Your Primary Care Network Development Funding

So, you now have the background; for those of you who do have the development funding and are looking for further ideas alongside the five ideas presented above on how to invest this, you could consider using the funding for:

  1. Team away days, which include guest speakers or facilitation

  2. Coaching or leadership development

  3. Training

  4. The pump priming on software licences or digital support

  5. Clinical Supervision or educational leads

  6. Attendance at a conference

  7. To offer as a community grant that supports a PCN objective or reduces health inequalities

  8. A wellbeing activity

Section 4: Specific recommendations

In this section, we provide some specific recommendations on what you can spend your funding on:

Digital Support

If you are looking for some support to embed new ways of working in your digital infrastructure, Redmoor's Digital Journey Planner has received many good reviews.


If you are looking for a well-being activity, I highly recommend Manage Your Mind led by Dr Farnaaz Hussain.

PCN Development, Strategic Planning and Team building I know of one network who has signed up for NHS Quest Day

NHS Quest is the first member-convened network for NHS Trusts that focuses relentlessly on improving quality and safety. NHS Quest members work together, share challenges and design innovative solutions to provide the best care possible for patients and staff. At THC Primary Care, Tara is an accredited Core Strengths Facilitator and works with primary care networks to:

  • Understand the 'HOW' and the 'WHY' of our behaviours.

  • Influence others through our motives. 

  • Provide an insight into how you can best approach engaging with your colleagues and peers whose approach may differ from yours. 

This session was recently delivered for PCN Leaders in Lincolnshire, and this is how they found the session.

meeting environment
  • Insightful

  • Uplifting  

  • Refreshing  

  • Reflective  

  • Reassuring  

  • Positive 

  • Exhausting 

  • Empowering 

  • Inspirational and motivational  

  • Fun 

  • It was helpful to understand other perspectives and decision-making  

More information can be found here.

Software licences

Investing in Ardens Manager could be an option. Check out our review here.

Attendance at conferences

When it comes to conferences, whilst the ticket may be free, the travel expense and releasing time from practice may not be. I would also encourage you to attend a conference with some of your colleagues so you can share information and strategies together throughout the day and then debrief at the end of the conference and document your key takeaways and next steps.

Final Thoughts

1️⃣ Link your PCN development funding to your current PCN objectives or challenges you may be experiencing. 2️⃣ Using your development funding to buy you time is immensely valuable. The day job is so busy it's hard to plan and strategise, so I would really encourage this sooner rather than later. 3️⃣ You will likely need to spend this money before 31st March, so if you haven't thought about how to spend this money, and if you have it, do so now.

There you go folks, 19 ways to spend your PCN development funds ( if you are lucky enough to access these! 😉 )

We hope you find this helpful.

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About the author

The business of healthcare podcast Tara Humphrey

I'm Tara; I am the founder of THC Primary Care, an award-winning healthcare consultancy specialising in Primary Care Network Management and the host of the Business of Healthcare Podcast, where we have now published over 200 episodes.

I have over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sectors, and I have supported over 120 PCNs by providing interim management, training and consultancy.

I have managed teams across multiple sites and countries; I have an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, I'm published in the London Journal of Primary Care, and I am the author of over 250 blogs.

I have 3 children. My eldest has Asthma, my middle child has a kidney condition called Nephrotic Syndrome, and my youngest daughter has Type 1 Diabetes, so outside of work, healthcare plays a huge role in my life.


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