top of page
THC Advert (1).png

The Role of PCNs in Integrated Care Systems (ICS)

Summary of The NHS Confederation Webinar and the Policy paper Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all.

There may be some network managers new to their PCN and unaware of the current ICS conversation. I thought I would capture some of the points from the recent webinar on “The Role of PCNs in Integrated Care Systems” hosted by the NHS Confederation PCN Forum and the webinar hosted by Mutual Partners: "Your options for provider collaboration within your Integrated Care System (ICS)."

Why Integrated Care Systems?

In February 2021, the policy paper, Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all, was released to set the legislative changes for the Health and Care Bill.

“ICSs are central to the delivery of the Long-Term Plan. An ICS brings together local organisations to redesign care and improve population health, creating shared leadership and action. They are a pragmatic and practical way of delivering the ‘triple integration’ of primary and specialist care, physical and mental health services, and health with social care”. The NHS Long Term Plan.

Along with triple integration, the following ‘Triple Aim’ is also at the heart of these changes.

Triple Aim

  • Better health and wellbeing for everyone

  • Better quality of health services for all individuals

  • Sustainable use of NHS resources


  • By April 2021, all parts of England will be served by an ICS with their priorities identified

  • By April 2022, the legislation will come into force to make the ICS board a statutory body

The journey over this next year is to work out what this is going to look like and how it will work in practice.

Utilising the skills within your PCN

It’s important to note the ICS is an enabler of change, but it’s not the change itself. This work will require time, engagement and resources at a time when many are already maxed out. The pull is often on Clinical Director involvement, but other roles in the network can also be advocates for change.


Governance is vital, but the focus should be placed on the collective change we want to see. Steering groups, memorandums of understanding and full collaborative agreements need to be progressed appropriately and underpinned by trust.


If PCNs are not at the table, it will be hard to influence decision making. If networks are not already, now is the time to prioritise strategic partnerships, informed by data and local intelligence on how best to serve their populations collectively.

Many people know our patients, not just the GP, so collaboration is essential!

It starts with building a shared purpose

At various levels in the system, partnerships will need to define their shared, ambition, purpose and commitment with an ongoing appreciation of the levels of trust around the table. Whilst Covid-19 has brought many parts of the system together; there is still lots of fragmentation.

Shared purpose also includes a shared language to aid effective communication.

The Role of the PCN Manager

  • To familiarise ourselves with the national strategy, 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 with neighbouring PCNs your networks plans and approaches to start to create aligned ways of working.

  • To develop a greater understanding of your local ICS

Reading / Watching - Resources to support you...

Lastly, if you are yet the join the NHS Confederation PCN Network, download the PCN Forum app and get involved as it’s a great community to learn and share.

Tara provides project and network management to Primary Care Networks and coaching support to clinical leads and has worked with 11 Training Hubs and 13 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 190 blogs also hosts The Business of Healthcare Podcast.

Work with me and book a call today here.

10,000 Donors.jpg
bottom of page