• Tara Humphrey

The Primary Care Network Autumn Update

Updated: 2 days ago

With so much going on, it's hard to keep up, so here is our compilation of the latest national guidance and directives required of Primary Care Networks, which will be a good starting point for new PCN Managers and Clinical Directors.

Across the system


In March, NHSE published the 2021/22 priorities and operational guidance, setting out the priorities for the year. This is important because these priorities set the context and direction for us.

As we move into the second half of the year, the six areas set out in March remain the priorities:

  1. Supporting the health and wellbeing of staff and taking action on recruitment and retention.

  2. Delivering the NHS COVID vaccination programme and continuing to meet the needs of patients with COVID-19.

  3. Building on what we have learned during the pandemic to transform the delivery of services, accelerate the restoration of elective and cancer care and manage the increasing demand on mental health services.

  4. Expanding primary care capacity to improve access, local health outcomes and to address health inequalities.

  5. Transforming community and urgent and emergency care to prevent inappropriate attendance at emergency departments (EDs), improve timely admission to hospital for ED patients and reduce the length of stay.

  6. Working collaboratively across systems to deliver on these priorities.

You can find the full document that was released on 30th September 2021 here.


From a primary care network perspective, the focus for the rest of the financial year and into 2022/23 is on:

  1. Improving prevention and tackling health inequalities in the delivery of primary care.

  2. Supporting better patient outcomes in the community through proactive primary care.

  3. Supporting improved patient access to primary care services.

  4. Delivering better outcomes for patients on medication.

  5. Helping create a more sustainable NHS.


In relation to the Primary Care Network DES;


On the 23rd of August, NHS England and Improvement released their updated plans for 2021/22 and 2022/23.


The documents can be found here:


  1. From October 2021, cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention, diagnosis and tackling neighbourhood health inequalities will be introduced in a reduced or preparatory form.

  2. From October 2021, PCNs will be asked to work to identify and engage a population experiencing health inequalities within their area and co-design an intervention to address the unmet needs of this population. Delivery of this intervention will commence from March 2022.

  3. From April 2022, PCNs will deliver a single, combined extended access offer, funded through the Network Contract DES.

  4. Personalised care will be introduced in April 2022.

  5. By September 2022, PCNs will be required to agree on a plan for Anticipatory Care with their ICS and local partners.

  6. The changes for 2021/22 will be incorporated into a revised Network Contract DES from 1st October 2021.

  7. New funding to support PCN leadership and management, of £43m in 2021/22. The new funding is for clinical directors to recommend how it is deployed to create new capacity to support the PCNs work. Details to follow soon (We hope!).

The updated Impact and Investment Fund guidance released on 1st October 2021 can be found here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/investment-and-impact-fund-2021-22-implementation-guidance/, and as always, EGPLearning gives us a breakdown of what this means for us in the world of Primary Care Networks. Check out their video here.


The NHS Confederation Primary Care Hub App also has tonnes of information, advice and peer support for a deeper dive.


National priorities that PCNs are already delivering on:

  1. Structured medication reviews

  2. Social Prescribing

  3. The vaccination programme

  4. Enhanced care in care homes

  5. Early Cancer Diagnosis

  6. Recruiting using the Additional Role Reimbursement Scheme

  7. Extended Access


Local contracts and projects PCN are also delivering on:

  1. Local development plans

  2. Practice Incentives Program (PIP)

  3. Local Incentive Scheme (LIS)

  4. Enhanced Services (ES)


Performance Management


We should all now have access to the Calculating Quality Reporting Service (CQRS), where we can monitor the financial performance of the impact and investment (although for many of us, information is limited. Understandably, this is a work in progress.)

There is a Primary Care Network (PCN) Dashboard on NHS ViewPoint. To access the dashboard, register on the Insights Platform or log-in using your existing Insights Platform account and then select the NHS ViewPoint product. A user guide is available on FutureNHS to help navigate the dashboard.


The dashboard supports PCNs in understanding their local population health priorities and the benefits they deliver for their patients. It will include indicative data on performance and achievement for the Investment and Impact Fund indicators and PCN service delivery and progress with recruitment. Some indicators draw on data extracted from GP IT systems.


The Role of the PCN Manager


As a PCN Manager, I believe our role is:

  • To familiarise ourselves with the national strategy, contracts, local plans, key relationships and existing partnerships.

  • To work closely with the PCN leadership team to ensure the network has a clear direction and shared purpose aligned with the national strategy.

  • To share your networks plans and approaches with neighbouring PCNs to start to create aligned ways of working.

  • To develop a greater understanding of your local ICS.

  • To keep focused on the task at hand.


If you need more support, our PCN Accelerator Programme is the only training for PCN leads created by a PCN Manager. This training and mentorship programme will give you the fundamentals and knowhow for you to deliver your role effectively and with confidence.


Check out the programme here.


Here you will find blogs on;


The Role of the PCN Manager

The Role of the Clinical Lead

What are you Tolerating in your Primary Care Network?

How to Overcome Objections in your Primary Care Network

NHS recruitment trends primary care networks need to be aware of

Tara provides project and network management to Primary Care Networks, training and mentorship to the PCN Managers and Clinical Directors and has worked with 11 Training Hubs and 18 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 and also hosts the Business of Healthcare Podcast.