Updated: Dec 20, 2022
Having worked with 13 PCNs, I know that PCNs spend a lot of time articulating their purpose and vision. However, they then fail to create an actual plan and even their PCN development plan, until I suggest this to help them achieve their long-term vision.
The benefits of a plan
Typically leaders fail to create an implementation plan because they either feel they;
Don't have the headspace.
Don't have the skills.
Don't see the need.
What tends to happen is that the network will focus on the most pressing need because they have to. The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme is a great example of this. PCNs are rising to the challenge under stressful conditions but a great deal of other work also needs to continue alongside this.
A report from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) highlighted “that some staff, but mainly clinical directors and practice managers were having to carry out much of the network development tasks on top of their usual ‘day job’ and networks had faced challenges around sufficient management support, excessive workload, and the risk of burnout.”
Rather than continue to operate in fire fighting mode all of the time, I know that building a quarterly plan will help you;
Reduce the stress of not knowing what to do because you now have a plan of what’s coming up.
Maximise the resources around you to support the network to deliver.
Understand your financial budget.
Track your contractual requirements.
Plan and organise your time better.
Gain the confidence to say no to unnecessary distractions.
Planning your plan
In order to make this happen, you will need to organise the following session:
A good chunk of uninterrupted time - I would advise 2 hours.
The key people in your network who help you make things happen - This may include a couple of practice managers, another clinical lead and your PCN Manager. (If you have a new PCN Manager our getting started guide will be perfect for them!)
The network finances - and do not forget to check with your finance lead to ensure you understand everything.
The DES specifications.
Your notes from reviewing what has worked well over the past quarter and what could be even better moving forward.
The goal of this session is to identify no more than 4 key goals that will require your focus and attention over this upcoming quarter, that will link to your short and long term plans.
To give you some ideas, this may include:
Recruitment and the induction of Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme
Embedding new roles
Enhancing engagement with practices
Setting up new systems and processes
Your PCN development plan
Network projects which have stalled
Once you have identified your 4 key areas (otherwise known as the what), then you need to work out the;
You do have the time
You may say this is another thing to add to your already very busy day and you don't have time for it. However, from my experience, this is something you will have to do anyway, and without creating dedicated time, you may end up doing this multiple times over because it wasn't done properly the first time. Or it will be on your mind when you want to be spending quality time with family or friends. Or you may be trying to squeeze it into early mornings and late nights.
As a Clinical Director or a key member in the PCN, your network looks to you for direction, guidance and leadership. Taking the time to map out a plan will not only support the benefits listed above but will also build confidence and trust with all of the parties involved.
You do have support
You may be thinking, this sounds like a fab idea, but I don’t have any key people to help me pull this together. Well... Look no further my friend, you have me. I can help you.
I can meet with you online and help you build your plan. Better still, I will write it out for you to share and build on with your network because I know doing something for the first time can be daunting.
You are making a worthwhile investment
You may now be thinking, I would love to work with you as I know this would benefit me greatly and I’m fed up with feeling stressed and unorganised when it comes to my PCN role, but I don’t want to pay for your time.
You could choose to see this as a worthwhile investment. A small investment to create your plan quicker from someone who is a PCN expert and has worked with 13 PCNs, 11 Training Hubs and runs her own business. When I have taken you through the process once, you will be able to complete it every quarter by yourself moving forward.
Still not sure? Check out what our clients have said about working with me...
"We have been sitting on the launch pad and you were the rocket fuel we needed to get us going."
Dr Altaf Baloch - Co-Clinical Director - Cranbrook Primary Care Network
"Thank you so much Tara! You are so versatile, and my conversations with you have helped turn my ideas into something doable."
Dr Adekemi Osadiya - Primary Care Clinical Director - Dartford Central PCN
"If what you want is real, tangible delivery from someone who really understands primary care, then I would strongly recommend Tara to you."
Ben Gowland HealthBridge Direct GP Federation and Host of The General Practice Podcast
A final few words
Regardless of the size and ambition of your network, it will need management, systems and processes to run effectively. You have the vision, now you need a plan that you can regularly review and actually deliver on.
If this sounds of interest, click here to find out more about working with me.
I have an MBA in Healthcare Leadership and Management, I'm published in the London Journal of Primary Care and I host The Business of Healthcare Podcast.
I have 3 children - my youngest has Type 1 Diabetes and my middle child has the kidney condition Nephrotic Syndrome. Working with healthcare professionals is not just a job for me, it's part of everyday life. And as a result, I've developed a huge passion for helping others to deliver excellent care.