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How to keep your Primary Care Network Manager

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

This blog was inspired by a presentation delivered by Gary Hughes on how to ensure your GP Partner and Practice Manager relationship is set up for success.

In my experience of supporting over 19 PCNs in various capacities from interim PCN management, consultancy, facilitation and training, this is my take on 'How to keep your Primary Care Network Manager'.

1. Invest in the PCN Manager and enable progression.

The role of the PCN manager is wide and varied. We've covered the scope of the position in the following blog posts:

It should be expected and planned that your manager will need some professional development throughout their time in your network.

At THC, we provide an introductory course for new PCN Managers. This is ideal for forming part of your PCN Manager's induction or providing to managers in the post for less than a year.

We also offer a course for more experienced managers and Clinical Directors titled PCN Plus.

For more information on each of these courses and the modules taught, click the images below.

Your PCN Manager may also need more formal training. I would recommend assessing the PCN Manager's skills and areas for development. With this knowledge, create a professional development plan to support their progression.

You will lose a PCN Manager if there are no opportunities that allow them to develop their skills. You will also be hindering your network's potential and creating more work for yourself by capping their ability.

2. Make time to understand their role.

You will never appreciate the role if you have no idea what your manager does.

To overcome this, make time to meet regularly. Our 1-2-1 framework will help to guide these conversations with your PCN Manager.

You will lose your PCN Manager if no attempt is made to stay in close contact. Without a good relationship and understanding of your manager, you will not be able to maximise their skills, experience and expertise. You'll also find yourself disconnected from the challenges your manager faces.

Listen and help them practically.

3. Empower your PCN Manager to make decisions and lead

You hired your PCN Manager for a reason. Empower them to make decisions. Provide direction and be reachable for them to field questions and thoughts. But remember, your manager is highly skilled and will want to make this role their own.

Be careful not to micromanage. Although, be aware to not leave them high and dry. Keep in close contact with them.

Your manager also needs space to think and strategically plan. (This message is for PCN Managers reading this too.) Not every minute of your week should be spent in meetings and doing operational tasks, you need white space to review and reflect.

4. Value your PCN Manager

The pay scale for a PCN Manager is very variable, but your manager is highly skilled. Their role sees them managing;

  • HR

  • Contract Management

  • Financial Management

  • Strategic planning

  • Operations and project management

  • Relation management

  • Horizon Scanning

Your PCN Manager is NOT an expense or luxury. They are, in fact, the Chief Operating Officer of the network. In many cases, they manage multiple six figures, and in some cases 7 figures, worth of resources.

Do not undervalue these skills or the time required and increasing deliverables needed of your network. Your network manager will be at the heart of activities.

You will lose a PCN Manager if you devalue this expertise. Likewise, you'll likely fail to attract the right candidate.

5. Foster a supportive culture.

You will lose your manager if you do not invest in the culture of your network.

We all want fair treatment and respect and this behaviour starts at the top.

I have seen first-hand networks and organisations that have a toxic environment. I wrote about this here.

Treat other people how you would expect to be treated. The alternative? Do not be surprised you find yourself in a cycle of managers joining and leaving your network.

If you liked this blog, please check out:

Tara provides project and network management and training to Primary Care Networks and coaching support to clinical leads and has worked with 11 Training Hubs and 19 Primary Care Networks to date.

Tara has an MBA in Healthcare Leadership and Management, is published in the London Journal of Primary Care, is the author of over 200 blogs also hosts The Business of Healthcare Podcast.

Find out more about THC Primary Care at

And follow Tara on Twitter @THCPrimarycare

  • If you’re new to your PCN Manager role and are unsure of what is expected of you, please check out our PCN Accelerator Programme here.

  • If you are a new Clinical Director, please check out PCN Plus here

We also offer interim PCN Management and for PCN Managers looking with support around a specific challenge, opportunity or area of development, you may be interested in our PCN Manager coaching sessions.


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