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I have been a Primary Care Network Manager for 5 years. What's Next?

Updated: Apr 4

If you're reading this, you're likely part of the cohort of Primary Care Networks (PCN) managers who have been involved in PCNs since the very start, or you have a good few years of experience and are wondering what’s next.


The PCN Manager role is not recognised within the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS). There is no national competency framework, and salary expectations are really varied, so there isn't a clear path ahead, which means, in a positive way, we can forge our own path.

Before I continue, please know that I do not want to encourage people to leave their PCNs. It's important for networks to retain as much talent as possible, but it would be unrealistic of me not to acknowledge that some of you have hit the ceiling in your network despite trying to find opportunities to stay and expand in your role.

This blog is for those of you who want to take the next step, which may not be in your current network, where we will be covering the importance of;

🎯 Networking

🎯 Taking initiative

🎯 Getting clear on what you want

🎯 Identifying and acknowledging your transferable skills

🎯 Spotting opportunities in the system

🎯 Developing those around you

I also listed 87 companies as a starter for 10 to consider before looking for your next healthcare opportunity.

Let's jump in!

Tip no 1. Network

Connect with fellow Primary Care Network managers, healthcare professionals, and industry experts. Attend conferences, join professional associations, and engage in online forums to expand your network. These connections can provide insights, mentorship, and career opportunities.

Did you know that I had no general practice background? I started my primary care career rather accidentally by supporting Training Hubs, formerly known as Community Education Provider Networks. These hubs are focused on supporting practices and now PCNs with education and training.


To help improve my understanding of general practice, I started listening to the General Practice Podcast hosted by Ben Gowland, and he kindly responded to my email, which only said I liked his show. Over time, we got to know each other, and he introduced me to the federation, which was looking for project management support to lead a frailty service across 42 practices.


This project then led me to support PCNs. This has been a 9-year journey.

If I hadn't reached out to Ben, I would likely not be here.

Below, I am going to share the 4 types of networkers I typically encounter for you to choose what resonates. Anything that doesn't resonate or you disagree with, simply disregard and do not give it a second thought.

The hawk

Some people target people who they feel can help them. Their focus is on what this person can do for them. They intentionally want to grow their network and use other people's networks to do this. They are very strategic.

The social butterfly

This group of people is super friendly and naturally strikes up conversations with everyone. They are great connectors and don't really have a motive. They don't see themselves as networking. They just want to connect and make friends.

Tech Savvy

Tech-savvy networkers are more comfortable networking online. They are great at curating and sharing information and sparking conversations, which attracts a lot of attention because it's easy for people to connect with them.

The Turtle

The turtle is shy and has a lot of imposter syndrome, but they are an absolute superstar. They just don't know it. They have so much experience and insight but are hesitant to put themselves out there.

My advice is to feel the fear and do it anyway!

Obviously, you can embody some or all of these. All approaches work, but my only ask is that you try to give more than you take.

Your next opportunity is likely just a couple of conversations away.

Tip no 2: Take Initiative:


Don't wait for opportunities to come to you; create them yourself.


Identify areas within your organisation or network where you can make a meaningful impact and take the initiative to address them. Whether it's leading a quality improvement project, spearheading a new initiative, or volunteering for leadership roles, taking proactive steps demonstrates your leadership potential and initiative.


Create your own job, and don’t be deterred if it takes time or if you encounter barriers. You are a seasoned professional who understands the context and landscape you are operating in.


If you are proposing something new, this may be challenging the status quo, and you will need to convince and evidence your proposition.

Tip no 3: Get clear on what you want

When plotting your next steps, I encourage you to really consider your:

➡️ Experience

➡️ Strengths

➡️ Weakness

➡️ Your non-negotiables

➡️ Areas for compromise

➡️ Areas you are looking to develop

➡️ The value you can generate from your current and potential employer


Taking all this into consideration and the economic environment in general practice, your next move may not be an increase in salary, but I urge you to think long-term. A healthcare career can be a long one, so really take time to consider what you want and then relate this to your network.


Tip no 4: Identifying and acknowledging your transferable skills


You have experience in:


  • Developing systems and processes

  • Clinical and non-clinical governance

  • Recruitment and HR activities

  • Data analysis

  • Business writing

  • Patient engagement

  • Conducting research

  • Sales and marketing

  • Scenario planning

  • Facilitation and chairing meetings

  • Financial planning and management

  • Managing resources

  • Conflict resolution

  • Meeting management

  • Building relationships

  • Crisis management

  • Understanding and utilising IT

  • Project and programme management Leading and facilitating clinical services

  • Commissioning services and contract management

  • Interpreting and implementing national policy and guidelines


What else can you add to this list?


These skills are clearly transferable and can be applied to any part of the health and care system.


You can use this list to help hone the questions posted in the get clear on what you want section.


Tip no 5: Spotting opportunities in the system


If your heart lays in healthcare ( and I hope it does ),


🎯 What organisations do you interact with? – Where are the challenges, and where could you help?

🎯 What organisations do you not interact with and know they would value from more engagement in your PCN – Where could you help?

🎯 What challenges are you experiencing with integrated working, and where are the opportunities?


One of your superpowers is that you know Primary Care, so take this superpower in an organisation that is weak in that area.


Tip no 6: Develop those around you


It’s really hard to progress if you have completely wrapped your current role around you. If you hoard all of the information and know-how pertinent to your role, don't be surprised if you find yourself stuck.


You need to develop those around you. You need to delegate and have confidence that you do not need to be front and centre to be seen, valued and respected.


Developing and empowering others will enable you to spot the opportunities that you are looking for.


Final thoughts


I really do believe an experienced PCN Manager with a clear track record could become a Federation CEO or COO.


You could become the CEO of your current network or a couple of networks.


You could move into a programme or project management position spearheading an integrated service.

Your skills are valuable and if you feel like you hit the ceiling in your Primary Care Network, there is a wealth of organisations that would value what you have to offer.


Below is a list of 87 organisations that could utilise your skills.

It's OK to move on, but hopefully, you do not feel you need to move out of the sector together.

I hope this helps.

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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 290 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, have an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, have been published in the London Journal of Primary Care, and 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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