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A Comprehensive Guide to your Primary Care Network Leadership and Management Team 2024/25

At THC Primary Care, we provide a wealth of resources for Primary Care Network leaders. We have already created a comprehensive guide on the roles which are most commonly funded via the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme, now it's time for the PCN management team.

Whether you’re brand new to a PCN leadership role, considering your management configuration, or you’re simply keen to understand more about the individual roles, remit and responsibilities within the network's management team, this blog will cover all of the above, and more…

  1. Who are the PCN management team, and what are they responsible for?

  2. Which individual roles sit within the management team, and what do they do?

  3. How to fund your leadership and management team.

  4. What should be on your management team’s radar right now?

  5. Getting the most from your PCN leadership and management team.

  6. Where to find out more.

To accompany this blog, it may be helpful to reference the following:

There is a lot to cover, so remove all distractions and let's jump in!


Every network is different, and some of this information may not resonate with you. Please discard anything which is not applicable to you.

1. Who are the PCN management team, and what are the team collectively responsible for?

The PCN leadership and management team are responsible, first and foremost, for the safe and effective delivery of their network's agreed core activities, which will typically cover the following key areas:

🎯 Strategic planning

🎯 PCN operations

🎯 Finance and Governance

🎯 Development of the PCN digital infrastructure

🎯 Relationship management

🎯 HR and workforce planning

🎯 The DES and other contracts

The team is led by a designated Clinical Director, who may be a GP, general practice nurse, clinical pharmacist or other clinical profession working in general practice.

Working alongside the Clinical Director/s, the team usually undertake boundary-spanning roles, straddling multiple practices, which requires careful navigation across different practice cultures, differing patient needs, variation in ways of working and non-uniform team and hierarchical structures.

Although there may be subtle differences in role remit (dependent on local needs) and role name, the team is usually comprised of the following:

✅ The Clinical Director

✅ The Clinical Lead

✅ The PCN Manager

✅ The PCN Digital and Transformation Lead

✅ The PCN Administrator

✅ A Practice Manager Lead

Keep scrolling for more detailed information on the remit of each of these roles.

2. Which individual roles sit within the management team, and what do they do?

No team is the same, in the same way networks vary in size and structure, but these are the roles which typically feature within most PCN leadership and management teams.

➡️ The PCN Clinical Director

The Clinical Director is the most senior member of the team and whilst not directly responsible for individual tasks carried out by the other members of the management team, they typically oversee the strategic and operational delivery of the network's agreed core activities.

They provide leadership for the network's strategic plans; working with member practices (and the wider PCN) to improve the quality and effectiveness of the network services, and are generally front facing, acting as the lead representative, and the head of the business.

➡️ The PCN Clinical Lead

Not to be confused with the Clinical Director.

The Clinical Lead usually describes someone who is responsible for an identified and specific clinical area of work. You can find out more in our blog here but in summary, a Clinical Lead will be involved with (and provide leadership for) all aspects of a particular service or project from resources, deliverables, measuring outcomes.

➡️ The PCN Manager

Not to be confused with the Practice Manager.

A Primary Care Network Manager is there to build the business infrastructure of the network and manage the network’s strategic development and goals.

Working alongside the Clinical Director, all member practices and the network stakeholders, PCN Managers hold direct responsibility for the day to day operations of the network.

This covers; business planning, workforce development, management of any contractual requirements, coordination of training and development, maintaining awareness of national and local policy, management of systems and processes HR and finance across the PCN.

If you’d like to dig even deeper, check out our blog dedicated to the role of the PCN Manager here.

➡️ The PCN Digital and Transformation Lead

The objective of the Digital and Transformation Lead is to lead on developing and building a robust digital infrastructure AND / OR transformation within the PCN.

They are fully focused on driving quality improvement, reducing health inequalities and inequity of access, supporting integrated working, building staff skills and capabilities and in general, allowing clearer visibility on PCN performance (which enhances better decision-making and pinpoints where further development may be required).

For more about what you can expect from a Digital and Transformation Lead, check out our blog.

Depending on your PCN demographic and existing resources, it may also be possible to combine the role of the PCN Manager and the Digital and Transformation Lead. We offer our thoughts and guidance on this here.

As this is a relatively new PCN role, you may be less familiar with what a Digital and Transformation Lead can do. If so, here’s a video covering this in a bit more detail...

➡️ The PCN Administrator

Your PCN administrator may also be called a Care Coordinator, Project Coordinator, Network Coordinator and/or something similar.

Their duties can be wide and varied, but as a starting point, this is where we find administrators will best add value, taking responsibility for:

  • Diary management and booking of key meetings

  • Management of Protected Learning Time and organisation of PCN-wide training

  • Maintaining and monitoring leadership and management (and individual project) action logs

  • Supporting and inducting new members of staff

  • Compiling and checking PCN-wide comms material and newsletters

  • Compiling reports and ensuring financial information is updated and recorded correctly

  • Maintaining an awareness of risks and issues and proactively flagging these

  • Responding to patient enquiries

For more about the personal skills and attributes you should look for in your PCN Administrator, as well as how best to embed and support them (and where they may face challenges), please check out our dedicated blog here.

➡️ What about Practice Managers?

Practice Managers are the lynchpin of practice life. They are the first port of call when it comes to issues, changes, initiatives, implementations and / or day to day operational concerns, within their individual practice.

In some instances, Practice Managers do not form part of the formal network management team but many do, as their role is invaluable when it comes to embedding and achieving network deliverables.

Whatever the circumstance, Practice Managers must be involved in network-wide decision-making as they will have a better understanding of the issues on the ground and will be able to aid and support you in navigating any potential inter-personal landmines, or team politics.

For further distinction between the PCN Manager and Practice Manager, and what to do if relationships aren't as harmonious as they should be, take a look at this blog, and our video, below.

3. How to fund your leadership and management team.

The roles which sit within the leadership and management team can be funded from a variety of sources:

Further guidance on finance and funding is available here.

4. What should be on your management team’s radar right now?

This is not about the Clinical Director taking responsibility for everything. Take time to consider who is responsible for specific areas of work, versus who is accountable for them.

Delegation and establishment of a trusting and supportive hierarchy, where everyone understands the expectations of them (within the remit of their role), is key.

The list is not exhaustive, and there may be some more specific tasks or areas of work which require priority within your own network, but its aim is to consider and clarify who is responsible and accountable for certain workstreams.

5. Getting the most from your PCN leadership and management team.

As well as ensuring clarity of roles and responsibilities, regular communication is key and training and support is vital.

Communication and Engagement

A regular meeting allows everyone to stay in contact, provides an opportunity to discuss or work through any issues or disagreements and ensures urgent and important tasks can be appropriately managed.

Pick a regular day and time and ensure you stick to it, whether it’s an online or in-person meeting. It doesn’t need to be super long (30 to 60 minutes maximum) but it should ideally involve all of the leadership team members, and it’s definitely worth including your Practice Managers too.

Training and Development

There is stacks of training currently available for those in, or those who sit around, the PCN leadership and management team, including some of our own online and distance learning courses.

Here's our pick:

PCNs can use the following funding streams to pay for training:

➡️ Core funding

➡️ Leadership and development funding

➡️ Impact and Investment funding

6. Where to find out more.

THC Primary Care is committed to providing and sharing PCN management training, guidance and resources, with the majority of our information shared freely.

Our key resources are in the form of document summaries, blogs, general guidance material, YouTube videos, and via our weekly Business of Healthcare podcast.

Podcasts and Blogs


Reports and Guidance

Whilst this article is designed to offer an overview of the PCN management team, we realise that this is a lot to digest! If you have any further questions on this topic, or any other areas of PCN management life, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

We hope this is helpful!😬😀


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About the Author

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 250 episodes.

I have over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sectors, and I have supported over 50 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 three 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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