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Primary Care Networks | What to focus on Q3 ( 2022)

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

It’s that time again for our regular blog feature, where we break down the main areas of what to focus on as we enter quarter 3.

This blog is for anyone involved in the running of a Primary Care Network and aims to be a helpful resource to help organise your network's activity as we head into autumn/winter.

We have a lot of information in this blog, so remove all distractions, grab a pen and either print this off or get your notebook to identify what;

  • Is progressing well

  • Needs more information

  • You have not started

  • What you need to do next

You will also need the DES specification, which can be found here.

Please also check out the guidance published 26th September found here.

The main areas for focus, according to the DES, are :

  • Workforce Planning

  • Enhanced Access

  • Personalised Care

  • Business as usual activity

  • Winter Pressures

  • Anticipatory Care

Let's jump in!

Workforce Planning

A PCN must complete and return to the commissioner a workforce plan, providing details of its updated plans for 2022/23 by 31 August 2022 and indicative intentions through to 2023/24 by 31 October 2022.

Check out our Introduction to Workforce Planning for further guidance on workforce planning.

The online workforce submission portal can be found here.

Enhanced Access

From 1 October 2022, PCNs will be required to provide Enhanced Access between the hours of 6.30pm and 8pm Mondays to Fridays and between 9am and 5pm on Saturdays (which are referred to in this Network Contract DES Specification as “Network Standard Hours”)

In preparation for the implementation of Enhanced Access from 1 October 2022, a PCN - working collaboratively with the commissioner - must produce an Enhanced Access Plan.

For more guidance, please check out our Introduction to Enhanced Access.

Personalised Care

By the 30th of September 2022, as part of a broader social prescribing service, a PCN and commissioner must jointly work with stakeholders, including the local authority, VCSE partners and local clinical leader, to design, agree and put in place a targeted programme to proactively offer and improve access to social prescribing to an identified cohort with unmet needs.

From 1st October, a PCN must commence delivery of this programme.

By March 2023, a PCN must review the cohort and extend the offer to more patients.

What is personalised care, and why is it important?

Check out an exert of our Business of Healthcare Podcast recorded with Aimee Robson, the Deputy Director of Personalised Care.

The full interview can be found here:

Business as usual activities

This list should be becoming familiar to you as it presents the business-as-usual services and activities we all should be delivering.

DES specifications

As discussed above, Extended Access is moving into Enhanced Access from 1st October. Personalised care is also covered above.

Other Business as usual activities will include:

  • Social Prescribing.

  • Enhanced Care in Care Homes.

  • Cardiovascular Disease (CVD).

  • Medication reviews and medicines optimisation.

  • Early Cancer Diagnosis (ECD).

  • Tackling Neighbourhood Health Inequalities – Our introduction to health inequalities can be found here.

  • Delivering on the Impact and Investment Fund.

  • The vaccination programme, if you are still delivering this.

Details of the DES specifications can be found here.

Other areas for attention

  • Recruitment.

  • Stakeholder management.

  • Local contracts and projects the PCN is also delivering on.

Winter Pressures

Winter pressures is an NHS term that defines the spike in demand when an already stressed system experiences increased pressure impacting patients’ wait times, workforce capacity, well-being and health and care financial budgets.

Many illnesses relating to respiratory diseases, flu, chest infections and conditions that respond poorly to cold weather peak in the winter, which could have a huge impact on your practices.

Ensure you have a contingency plan and decide what activities can be sidelined if you experience staff abscess due to sickness.

Next Steps

Here is our PCN management checklist, and it's not just for Managers; this can be adapted to all of your team involved in the management and coordination of your PCN.

Performance Management

  • Review your IIF progress and share it with the network.

  • If you haven't already made one, create a simple DES tracker using EXCEL, which details the requirements of the DES for you to quickly assess where you are and what needs to be done and discuss this with your team.

Service Development

Identify the net steps regarding

Workforce Planning

  • Review your workforce plan to see if you are on track

  • What roles need to be recruited?

  • Ensure you are aware of the annual leave of your PCN as we are entering winter pressures season

  • Ensure your team are aware of the latest winter guidance found here

Financial Management

  • Review your finances from Q2 and see if any payments are outstanding

More guidance can be found here on PCN finances

Communication and Engagement

  • What updates need to be shared with the PCN?

  • What does your upcoming meeting schedule look like?

  • Update your 90-day plan and share this with the team.

Lastly, we think the perfect accompaniment to this blog is 7 platforms every Primary Care Network Manager should be subscribed to, where you will be able to find lots more support.

We hope this helps.

Work with us

Going live on 31st October, we have our 3rd cohort of training to support those of you who are involved in PCN Management. You may be a Manager, Administrator or Coordinator.

Whilst we share a lot of information in our blogs, there is so much more, and for those of you who are looking to invest in your professional development and the performance of your network, our programme is full of tools and templates and master classes for you to have access to for 12 months, and we ADD exclusive resources to this each month.

On top of this, you will receive a core strengths assessment to improve your communication and leadership skills.

We have drop-in sessions and a WhatsApp group too.

In this programme, we focus on the skills to lead and manage a network so regardless of changes in the DES and last-minute contractual obligations, you will have learnt the skills to keep a cool head and lead and manage with confidence.

Lastly, we lead and manage PCNs too. We are in the thick of it and experience the good and those days when you think 😫!

About the Author

Tara and Team THC provide project and network management and training to Primary Care Networks. Between our training programmes, facilitation and interim network programmes, we have now supported over 50 PCNs!

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

Follow Tara on Twitter

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