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A Summary of the 2022/23 NHS England Business Plan and What this means for Primary Care Networks

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

The NHS England Business Plan for 2022/23 aligned to a £153bn budget has been released.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the key points in the plan and how primary care networks are already working towards some of these national priorities.

In this blog, we highlight

  1. Two significant organisational changes

  2. The business plan's ten key commitments/ strategic priorities

  3. The importance of communication when it comes to any workforce changes

DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to keep our blogs up to date and the information presented reflects our knowledge at the time of publishing.

Organisational Changes

The merge of NHS England and NHS Improvement took place in July 2022 into a single body. NHS England is at present responsible for providing unified, national leadership for the NHS. However, further changes are underway.

In April 2023, NHS England, Health Education England and NHS Digital are merging into a new single organisation with a shared purpose ‘To lead the NHS in England to deliver high-quality services for all.

This new NHS England will be an organisation that can speak with a single national voice.

Strategic Priorities

As stated in the business plan, over the course of 2022/23, the focus will be placed on

1. Supporting the NHS to attract and retain more people, working differently in a compassionate and inclusive culture.

2. Continuing to lead the NHS in responding to COVID-19 evermore effectively.

3. Delivering more elective care to tackle the elective backlog, reducing long waits and improving performance against cancer waiting times standards.

4. Improving the responsiveness of urgent and emergency care and increasing its capacity.

5. Improving access to primary care.

6. Improving mental health services and services for people with a learning disability and autistic people.

7. Delivering improvements in maternity care.

8. Preventing ill health and tackling health inequalities.

9. Driving the integration of care and enabling change.

10. Improving productivity and reducing variation across the health system

What does this mean for primary care networks?

Continuing to lead the NHS in responding to COVID-19

PCNs, pharmacies, and GP Federations up and down the country are preparing themselves for the delivery of an integrated autumn /winter campaign and how they respond to outbreaks.

Early Cancer Diagnosis

While cancer diagnosis and treatment were prioritised throughout the pandemic, the number of people presenting to their GP with cancer symptoms initially declined.

Faster diagnosis for cancer referrals is a national priority, and PCNs are working hard to proactively educate and identify cohorts of patients who need a referral.

Focus on the rollout of non-specific symptoms pathways is welcomed as many current pathways still have patients who fall outside the criteria, which means patients are being bounced around the system.


The business plan states the desire to improve access to general practice by increasing the number of appointments, enabled by the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS), and supporting primary care networks to deliver the enhanced access service.

Enhanced access plans are well underway with this new service starting on 1st October.

For an introduction to Enhanced Access, please click here.

Recruitement and Retention

In regards to supporting the retention of the primary care workforce, I am seeing first-hand recruitment drives taking place. Still, primary care networks must be willing to participate and think creatively about marketing the career opportunities available.

PCNs and the practices and partners which make up the networks also need to think carefully and invest in creating and nurturing a supportive culture that promotes personal and professional development.

When it comes to any changes in terms and conditions as mentioned in the Fuller Report, this will need to be handled with care. If this is poorly managed, we may retain some staff and lose others at a time when everybody is desperately needed.


A barrier to recruitment for many is the lack of premises. Many areas simply do not have enough space.

General Practice new builds take time, so networks will need to think outside the box and work with their community partners to see what solutions can be created to provide onsite working, where staff feel part of a team.

Mental Health

It has been widely reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant consequences on our mental health.

Whilst PCNs can co-fund the appointment of up to 2 mental health practitioners via the Additional Role Reimbursement Scheme, demand for the role of the practitioner post is outstripping the pipeline, and we have to be careful not to destabilise existing services.

We will need to look further than our Community Mental Health Trusts for partnership working which could fit well into the Fuller Stock take vision for widespread Integrated Multi-Disciplinary Teams.

For more information on the Fuller Stocktake, please see our introductory blog found here.

Learning Disabilities

Primary Care Networks are already working to support their patients with learning disabilities ensuring they are aware of their annual health checks tracked through the PCN Impact and Investment Fund.

Health Inequalities

The NHS England business plan cites, “prevention is a crucial part of the NHS’s approach to improving overall population health and reducing health inequalities: helping people to make healthier lifestyle choices and treating illness at an early stage so that they can live longer healthier lives.

Whether you are part of the PCN Management team, a Clinical Director, or a member of the PCN team funded via the additional role reimbursement scheme, we have created an introduction to health inequalities which can be found here.

Climate Change

The NHS is tackling climate change and air pollution, and one-way PCNs are supporting this mission is through optimising the prescription and use of inhalers to improve outcomes from asthma and the environment.

Did you know

“ An inhaler can have a big impact on your carbon footprint. The most commonly used inhaler in the UK, Ventolin Evohaler™, has a carbon footprint of 28kg per inhaler. That’s the same carbon footprint as the tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions of driving 175miles (or from London to Sheffield) in a small car!”

Final thoughts

The business plan highlights continued digital transformation to support more integrated care, Integrated Care System governance and the need to Improve productivity and reduce variation across the health system.

One area in which primary care networks will be closely looking to as these emerge will be initiatives relating to primary care via the ARRS.

Also, I wouldn't be surprised if any last-minute prevention programmes are initiated.

I hope our summary helps!

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 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 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 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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